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1 Cor 1:1-5

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 1:6-10

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 1:11-15

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 1:16-20

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 1:21-25

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 1:26-31

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 2:1-5

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 2:6-10

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 2:11-16

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 3:1-5

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 3:6-10

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 3:11-15

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 3:16-20

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 3:21-23

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 4:1-5

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 4:6-10

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 4:11-15

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

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I have a question[edit]

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  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 4:16-21

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 1-4
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Summary[edit]

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I. Contention (Chapters 1-4)
• Topic 1: "It hath been declared unto me ... that there are contentions among you" (1:11)

• salutation (1:1-9)
• questions: (1) Is Christ divided? (2) Was Paul crucified? (3) Were you baptized in Paul? (1:10-13)
• answer: (3) you were baptized in name of Christ, not Paul (1:14-17a)
• answer: (2) preach Christ crucified, preach by the Spirit, and preach milk not meat (1:17b-3:4)
• answer: (1) laborers should all work together in Christ (3:5-4:13)
• conclusion (4:14-21)

Discussion[edit]

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Verses 1:17b-3:4: Preach Christ crucified[edit]

  • 1 Cor 1:22. Here we have the twin pillars of secularism: science: the study of "signs" or physical proof, and philosophy: the study of "wisdom." Although the Jews are not nescessarilly fathers of modern science, their interest in physical proof is very much in the spirit of science, and what Paul says about them here can apply. According to Paul, Christianity is simply unsatisfying to those of a scientific or philosophical mindset. Only to those "which are called," will Christianity have wisdom and power. Verse 24.
  • 1 Cor 1:27-30. Why does God call upon the weak and foolish? Why doesn't he chose people who are more intelligent and gifted? Paul's answer is found in verse 29: "That no flesh should glory in his presence." If people were chosen based on their intelligence and strength, then being chosen would be a sign of our superior intellect, and we would "glory in our strength in God's presence." Instead, because "of him are ye in Christ Jesus." The only reason we are chosen is because of God's mercy towards us, and not because of any spiritual superiority or strength of intelligence. Understanding this, we can only glory in the Lord, and not in ourselves. This "grace-based" election is one of the main themes of the Pauline Epistles.
  • 1 Cor 2:7. "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." As carefully as we try to analyze Paul, something about it will continually elude us. Only through the Spirit can Paul's words be truly understood. It is easy enough to understand the meaning of verse 9, "no one knows, or has any idea what God has prepared for those who love him." Yes, the meaning is clear, and so what? We don't know what God's plans for us are. But how often we hear this verse and something about it stirs our souls, and we feel caught up in the expectation of something truly glorious and feel a portion of that overwhelming love that God has for us. These feelings come from beyond the text itself. They come from the Spirit, working with our spirit, to reveal something that is beyond words to describe.
  • 1 Cor 2:12. What Paul is explaining is easy to understand on the cerebral level. But he is also expressing something beyond the words themselves, a kind of door through which the listener may enter. Here he may be taught by the Holy Ghost things that are inexpressible through mere mortal communication of letters and words.
  • 1 Cor 2:14. "Natural" is translated from the Greek word ψυχικός (psychikos), the adjective form of the noun ψυχή (psychē). The noun form means "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing," or more simply "breath." Note that in James 3:15 and Jude 1:19 psychikos is instead translated as "sensual." "Natural" here, then, isn't the opposite of "artificial," but rather is a reference to one's human or bodily nature.
In our day it is harder than ever to let go of the "natural man" and the reasoning of the world. We live in a day saturated with information, facts, science, quick, easy answers, and strong opinions. Letting go of this mindset as we read the words of Paul, and trying to enter in the subtle world of "mysteries of Godliness" is sometimes not easily done. It's easy to give up on Paul, and go for something more palpable to the modern mindset. It's easy to try to force his words into preconceived doctrinal structures that we have already learned. But we miss so much when we do this. The rewards of studying Paul, and the Godly wisdom just beyond his words, is worth the sacrifice.
Paul uses the "natural man" (verse 14) as a foil to "he that is spiritual" (verse 15). By "natural man" Paul is talking about someone who knows things according to the spirit of man (verse 11) or, what seems to be the same thing, the spirit of the world (verse 12), but not according to the Spirit of God (verse 11). Paul's point seems to be that the things of God must be spiritually discerned (verse 14). In verse 16 Paul tells us we cannot instruct the Lord. We might interpret the earlier verses as an argument for the same thing. It makes sense that we cannot instruct God if the only way to judge spiritual things is by the Spirit of God.

Verses 3:5-4:7: Laborers should all work together in Christ[edit]

  • 1 Cor 3:18-19. We know that the wisdom of the world often changes dramatically in a short period of time. Reading a book on science or medicine from the 1950s will demonstrate how completely the wisdom of the experts changes over a span of a few short decades: doctors recommending cigarettes, for example. And today, the current wisdom touted by experts across the world will soon shift dramatically as well, and our children will laugh at our naivete. Given what history has taught us about the variability of worldly wisdom, why would we choose to put our trust in the "experts?"
Although Paul was attacking the Greek worship of worldly wisdom, Socrates allegedly said something, which resonates with Paul's admonition. "All I know is that I know nothing." He would agree with Paul's phrase, "let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
  • 1 Cor 4:3. We know that we should avoid judging others. However, Paul takes this one step further and says that he doesn't even judge himself. This is a difficult example to follow, particularly in our culture of self-perfectionism. In our culture it is proper that we put ourselves down frequently in order to feign humility, while puffing up the accomplishments of others. It is also culturally proper that we are never satisfied with our current state, but that we should always see the lack in ourselves and strive for something better. Paul behaves differently. In the next verse he says "I know nothing against myself." JST Although in this particular case, the Corinthians esteemed themselves too highly, Paul's council also applies for those who esteem themselves too lowly.
How true Paul's perspective is. We frequently notice that people's self-perceptions are often completely wrong. Even when they seem to be fair to outsiders, they are not fair to themselves. Perhaps judging ourselves is the most difficult of all because we live in such close proximity to ourselves and can't see the forest through the trees.
Paul takes little stock in the judgements of others, nor in his own judgements. Although he thinks he is OK, "I know nothing against myself," yet he doesn't even know if this is true. "Yet I am not hereby justified." But he doesn't care. He knows that he might be off-base, but he doesn't care. "Who am I to judge?" He is doing his best, and he has assurances from God. To Paul, God is the only judge that matters.
The JST for verse 4 is interesting. I think it may be one of the few cases where the JST corrects the KJV in the same way modern translations do.
  • 1 Cor 4:7. Paul returns to his frequent reminder that we are not to take credit for our gifts and status in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. This might have been easy enough to grasp in Paul's day, a day before capitalism and the American Dream. In our day, understanding Paul's rebuke doesn't come naturally. Much of what we are taught at school, home, and even within church culture, reinforces the idea that what we gain in this life is ours. We earned it, and thus we are entitled to glory in it. Our place in this world is something that "we" create for ourselves. Our accomplishments come from our own ambitions, self-discipline, and faith in ourselves.
Yet Paul reminds us that this is a great illusion. Who gave us our ambitions? Who gave us the values of education, self-discipline, hard work and faith? We are only building upon a foundation given to us by others, who in turn were only building upon something God alone gave them. That we have "earned" anything at all is a great myth. God is the giver of all things. All that we have is on loan from him.
  • 1 Cor 4:8-10. The Corinthians, puffed up with pride, felt that they had arrived. They were righteous, and thus enjoying the blessings of their works and their spiritual gifts. Paul describes them in a mock ironic tone: "wise in Christ, strong, honorable, reigning as kings, full and rich, while at the same time, the apostles are fools for Christ, weak, poor, and despised. In Chapter 2, Paul had told the Corinthians that if they would be wise, they must become fools. If they were to truly reign as kings in heaven, they must become servants of all, as Christ said.

Points to ponder[edit]

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I have a question[edit]

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  • 1 Cor 2:4. "Demonstration of the Spirit and power. What were the demonstrations of Spirit and power Paul is talking about? Is he talking about the sermons themselves, and the exact meaning of the words he used, or is he talking about something more supernatural, perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon his listeners?
  • 1 Cor 2:6-10: Hidden wisdom. The text states "hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" could this be implying that knowledge was kept from us in the pre-existence?
  • 1 Cor 3:16. Ye are the temple of God. When Paul says "ye are the temple of God" is he referring to a person's individual mortal body as is often cited, or of the collective body of the church? Corinthians 6:19 says "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost." Romans 7:18 "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" Scriptures such as these helped fuel negative attitudes towards the human body for centuries. How are Paul's pejorative views of the "flesh" reconciled with our current doctrinal views on the sanctity of the human body?

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: First Corinthians                      Next page: Chapters 5-7

1 Cor 5:1-5

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
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II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

1 Cor 5:6-10

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

1 Cor 5:11-13

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

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Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

1 Cor 6:1-5

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

1 Cor 6:6-10

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

1 Cor 6:11-15

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10

1 Cor 6:16-20

Home > The New Testament > First Corinthians > Chapters 5-7
Previous page: Chapters 1-4                      Next page: Chapters 8-10


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

II. Chastity and Marriage (Chapters 5-7)
• Topic 2: "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you ..." (5:1)

• incest (5:1-13)
• lawsuits (6:1-8)
• adultery (6:9-20)

• Topic 3: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me" regarding marriage (7:1)

• divorce and marriage to unbelievers (7:1-24)

• Topic 4: "Now concerning virgins ..." (7:25)

• marriage (7:25-40)

Discussion[edit]

This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • 1 Cor 5:11. Some might say that Paul's admonition not to eat with sinners of this type within the church is unduly harsh. After all, didn't Jesus eat with publicans and sinners? Some churches such as Jehovah's Witnesses follow this scripture in all cases and cast out many among them who were once dearest friends and family, causing undue grief and anguish. The LDS people do not generally take such a hard line stance. Excommunication is sometimes taken for fornicators who have been to the temple, but they are still invited to attend meetings, and we are not commanded to shun their company.
It is important to recognize that Paul was addressing the Corinthians with regard to a certain member, referred to in Verse 1, who had slept with his stepmother. Apparently the Corinthians took great pride in this member and refused to excommunicate him. Perhaps he had great influence and was a valued friend in the community. Paul's hard-line admonition could be seen as applying strictly to such "notorious" sinners, as Matthew Henry describes him in his commentary.
It is also interesting to note that in 2 Cor 2:6 Paul revisits the issue with this "notorious" sinner, but with a much softer approach. "Ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." In this context, we see that Paul either regretted his hardline approach, or that he felt the man had repented sufficiently. In any case, forgiveness is an ideal that we should strive for at all times. Even "notorious" sinners must be forgiven, even if they must be dealt with in sometimes harsh ways for their own good, and the protection of others.
Paul's council in this epistle is problematic in terms of fellowshipping and reclaiming less-active and lost sheep within the fold. However, it is sensible advice when applied to the youth and the peers they choose to associate with. Many of our youth are driven to sin by the pressure of peers, in and out of the church who welcome them as friends, yet encourage them to adopt sinful lifestyles.
The nature of our relationship with the sinner will help us draw boundaries of appropriate contact. If we are reaching out to reclaim lost sheep, that is one thing. But if they are reaching out to us, to invite us sympathize with their lifestyle and eventually adopt it, that is a line we cannot cross. Alexander Pope's warning about vices we "first endure, then pity, then embrace" applies here.
  • 1 Cor 6:12. This scripture sheds some light on Paul's view of the law. Throughout the Epistles, Paul repeatedly asserts that the law is dead, and that belief in Christ is the only prerequisite to Salvation. However, Paul also rails against fornication and many other sins. This presents a conundrum for Paul. How can he insist that the Saints follow certain laws like avoiding fornication, while at the same time insisting that the law is dead? Paul solves this problem in this verse, by saying, "all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Other translations say "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." To Saints alive in Christ, even though the law is dead, it is still not beneficial to commit fornication. Additionally, Paul notes that committing fornication will cause one to be "brought under the power" of it, or become slaves to it. How can we become slaves to sin when we are already the servants of Christ?
It is interesting that Paul uses similar language Joseph Smith used in the Word of Wisdom: "meats for the belly...now the body is not for fornication." Joseph Smith's original Word of Wisdom was not a law, but rather a "word to the wise." Only later did it become binding upon the Saints as a commandment.
Joseph Smith recognized that Paul's views of the law were problematic and changed the reading of the scripture to "All things are not lawful unto me." For Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints, the law is of supreme importance. "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated" he revealed.
Paul's negative views on the law are understandable, given his situation and mission in the early church. Many Jewish converts still believed that the Law of Moses was binding upon them, and this disallowed the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul struck out against this point of view in the strongest possible terms, insisting that the entire law was dead to those who were alive in Christ. Even though the LDS people believe in laws and ordinances, we can still gain important insights from Paul's idealistic views of being "alive in Christ, without the law," for it is true that when we are truly "alive in Christ" we lose the desire to do anything that would be contrary to the law. As the Book of Mormon says "they had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually."
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20. "Ye are not your own." When we accept Christ we effectively sell our souls and bodies to Him. In exchange, Christ delivers us from the power of sin and death. Later in Cor. 7:22, Paul refers to us as "Christ's servant," more accurately translated from the Greek as "Christ's slave." Has any master treated us with more mercy, patience and deference than Christ has to us? It is easy to forget that indeed, "we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we are His slaves."

Chapter 7[edit]

  • 1 Cor 7. This is a difficult chapter to reconcile with the current LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage. Here are a number of points to consider as we approach this chapter from the LDS perspective.
1. JST does not change the chapter significantly, leading us to assume that Joseph Smith felt that the essence of the material in this chapter was translated correctly. However, some of his changes later in the chapter reinforce the theory that Paul was speaking exclusively to those called to the ministry when he advocates celibacy. (See JST verse 29)
2. Paul usually prefaces his more controversial points with the disclaimer "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." Most of the other apostles were probably married according to 1 Cor 9:5. It is likely that many of the other apostles did not share the same opinions about marriage.
3. Paul was unmarried at the time of this letter. Some speculate Paul had been previously married because he was studying to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which required marriage. However, there is no firm evidence of this. Marriage would have been difficult for him because of his broad, busy ministry scattered across the Mediterranean. Paul was very comfortable with his celibacy, and encouraged others to follow his example. This could possibly be seen as a desire to recruit others to the ministry, because Paul seemed to believe that being married and a missionary was not an ideal situation.
4. It is possible that Paul and some of the Saints in the early church did not have the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage as we understand it today. (Joseph Smith did not have it at the time he made his translation of the Bible.) It is also possible that because the apostles were spread out, without much central communication, that completely unified doctrine was sometimes difficult to achieve. While we believe that the LDS church is a "restoration" of the original church, this does not necessarily mean that God can't continue, even in our day, to add additional truths that previous dispensations did not have access to. This would help explain some of the strange assertions in this chapter as well as other problematic Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ explanation in Mark 12:25 that in the resurrection, people are "not given in marriage, but are angels unto God."
Keeping these points in mind will help us put Paul's comments into their proper perspective. At the same time we need not dismiss Paul's comments here as uninformed, or completely unrelated to our day. Paul's opinions offer needed insight for those in our day who are single, either by choice or because they have not had the opportunity to marry.
  • 1 Cor 7:1. Many translations render "not to touch a woman," as "not to marry." "To touch a woman" is a Greek expression for marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:5. JST renders "defraud" as "depart." Both interpretations give insights into married relationships. When we withhold ourselves from our spouses, we in essence "defraud" them of what is rightfully theirs. Verse 4 says that a wife owns the body of her husband, and the husband owns the body of his wife, as lawful property. When we withhold ourselves, we are literally defrauding them. JST's admonition not to "depart" is also excellent advice, as many marriages strain greatly when there are long periods of absence.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. Paul makes two points, by permission and not by commandment:
1. He believes it is best not to marry, but if you can't contain your passions, it is better to marry than to commit fornication.
2. He acknowledges in verse 7 that some men are "called" to different callings than he. Others may be called to marriage, just as he was called to celibacy. This is their "proper gift of God." Paul has a personal incentive to promote the superiority of celibacy, but he acknowledges that God may have different plans for certain individuals.
Paul's attitude towards marriage is similar to his attitude about not eating meat in Romans 14. Some members, who are weaker, don't eat meat. But this is still OK, and God approves of their sacrifice. For Paul, marriage is also for the "weaker" members. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are blameless before God in this.
  • 1 Cor 7:6-10. For some reason, this scripture doesn't seem to get much attention in the LDS Church. As a convert member of 8 years, I don't recall ever seeing it discussed or mentioned in class, even during the New Testament study cycle in Gospel Doctrine class. I wonder why that is?
One answer may be in verse 6 and following: Paul makes clear he is stating a personal opinion and/or a policy for the time. It's not clear that the counsel he gives would be the same if he were around today. I do find it interesting, though, how egalitarian Paul is here, considering he has a reputation (not necessarily in the Church) for having a negative attitude toward women.
  • 1 Cor 7:12. Paul is not saying that it is good to marry unbelievers. He is saying that if you are already married to one, don't put him or her away. In 2 Cor. 6, Paul talks about the danger of being "unequally yolked" with unbelievers, essentially discouraging new members from marrying unbelievers. However, most of his audience were converts who joined after previous marriages as Gentiles
It is nevertheless reassuring to hear Paul say that "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband." Marriage with an unbeliever can be terribly difficult and Paul's statement gives us reason to hope for the salvation of our unbelieving relatives.
  • 1 Cor 7:17. Paul explains that in our civil and marital obligations, we should be content with our lot in life. We need not seek to change these circumstances, even after conversion to Christianity. The three examples he uses are marriage, circumcision, and slavery.
  • 1 Cor 7:22. There is a kind of poetic beauty in Paul's statement, similar to the beauty of Jesus' statement that "He that seeketh his life shall loose it, he that shall loose his life for my sake shall find it." The power of the statement comes alive when the word "slave" replaces the word servant. He who is a slave is the Lord's freeman, and he who is a freeman is the Lord's slave. Apart from it's poetic balance, theologically, it expresses the paradox of the Christian life. It is true that we obey Christ in every word, but this brings us freedom, not bondage.
  • 1 Cor 7:28. "Such shall have trouble in the flesh," or "trouble in this life," according to other translations. Paul's pessimistic attitudes towards marriage have led some to speculate that Paul might have been previously married, and that the marriage ended unhappily. Paul was not a perfect man, especially before his conversion, and it is only natural that he might have been the witness of a lot of marital strife, either in his own life, or those around him.
Clearly, Paul's view of marriage as a nescessary evil to avoid fornication is out of harmony with our current LDS views. Marriage does sometimes bring with it great conflict. But as we strive to overcome challenges within marriage, we embrace greater growth, and ultimate happiness. This viewpoint is missing from Paul's writings.
However, Paul's reminder that marriages will have "troubles" helps us to keep a proper perspective in marriage. Having "trouble" in a marriage is completely natural, and no reason to divorce.
  • 1 Cor 7:29. The original reading of the KJV text seems to indicate that Paul believed there was no marriage in the afterlife. The "time is short" refers to the duration of this life. Joseph Smith changes the text so that the "time is short" refers only to the duration of a missionary calling.
  • 1 Cor 7:32-35. Paul continues to highlight the advantages of celibacy, claiming that people who are married must spend their time serving their spouses, instead of serving God. In previous decades of church history, the church frequently called married men to depart from their families and go on full-time missions. But today, only unmarried young men and women are called on missions, as well as the retired, who have minimal family obligations. The reason for this change reflects a basic understanding of Paul's assertion. It is more difficult to serve as a full-time missionary while one is raising a family.
What's missing from Paul's statement, is that through service to a spouse, one also serves the Lord. This is a truth Paul alluded to when he said, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church" Eph 5:25. The relationship between the husband and the wife is a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. When a man and a woman truly understand the divinity of this relationship, marriage can come very close to Godliness.
  • 1 Cor 7:36-37. There seems to be great confusion among the translations on what is exactly meant by "virgin." Some translate this as "a virgin one is engaged to," others translate it as a "virgin daughter," and still others translate it as "one's personal virginity."
In any case, the essence of Paul's argument is that "it is OK to get married. It is not a sin. Nevertheless, it is better not to do it, if you have the self-discipline to restrain from fornication."
  • 1 Cor 7:40. Paul believes (according to the Spirit of God in him) that people will be happier if they avoid marriage.
How are we to take Paul's assertions in this chapter? In our day Paul would likely be branded a "menace to society." His views on celibacy have given the Catholic Church evidence to enforce the celibacy of their clergy for centuries. His views have influenced various groups such as the Shakers who believed celibacy was the highest order, and consequently, their membership soon died out.
The difficulties of this chapter make it tempting to overlook or dismiss by simply claiming that it is one of those places "not translated correctly." However, because JST does not substantially change Paul's basic claims, and because his meaning is clearly unified in the many various translations, this is not a chapter we can lightly dismiss.
  • 1 Cor 7: In Praise of Singles. Paul, in this chapter voices a perspective not often heard in the modern church: the voice of single members. Because most leaders in the church are married, and because marriage and family is so highly prized, many singles in the church sometimes feel overlooked and undervalued. Their problems are sometimes dismissed with phrases such as, "you'll get the chance to have a family in the next life," as if marriage and family were the only thing they could possibly be living for.
Paul offers a different perspective. Not only was he unmarried, but he was content in that state. He found value in that state. He believed forcefully that God wanted him to be single, and encouraged others to do likewise. He believed that singles had greater opportunities to serve in the church than their married counterparts, and in his eyes, they were better off for it.
While we understand that Paul's assertions are unduly pessimistic, and that marriage is ordained of God, it is nevertheless true that many of our brethren and sisters do not have the opportunity to marry in this life. Paul's viewpoint can give them needed validation. It can challenge them to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities the single life affords them. Julie Beck, the LDS Relief Society President recently said to the single women in the church: "No one is better positioned than you to work in temples, serve missions, teach the rising generation, and help those who are downtrodden. The Lord needs you." Ensign, Nov. 28, 2008.

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