BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 18, Day 2: 1 Corinthians 1-2

Summary of passage:  Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians:  Paul thanks God for them because through Jesus the Corinthians have been enriched in every way.  They do not lack any spiritual gifts and so will be blameless before the Lord.  However, there are divisions in the church as some are following certain church leaders (Apollos, Peter, and even Paul) instead of Christ.  Paul explains he is merely preaching what Christ did not what anyone else did.  Christ died for their sins not any of these other leaders.

The message of the cross is the power of God.  Christ is the power and wisdom of God.  Man is foolish for man did not know God (which God allowed).  The foolishness of God (which is non-existent) is wider than man’s wisdom.  The weakness of God (which is non-existent) is stronger than man’s strength.  God is that much higher than man.

God chose those deemed foolish by human standards (we’re all foolish in comparison to God) to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly so that no one will boast before him.  It is because of God that we are in Jesus who had become for us wisdom from God.  So if you boast boast in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 2:  Paul says he came to the people in weakness and fear.  Paul’s message of wise and persuasive words were from the Spirit’s power so your faith could rest on God’s power.

Now, they speak of God’s secret wisdom (Jesus).  One that has been destined since before time began.  God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.  No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God so we have received the Spirit of God so that we man understand God’s gift (Jesus and grace).  This is the message Paul speaks.

The man without the Spirit does not understand things that come from the Spirit of God. The spiritual man is not subject to man’s judgments.  But we have the mind of Christ.

Questions:

3a)  Utmost confidence.  They have been called to be holy, enriched through Jesus in every way–in speaking and knowledge–with every spiritual gift.  They will remain strong to the end and blameless.

b)  Quarrels and divisions amongst them.  Some are following particular disciples (Paul, Peter, Apollos, etc) instead of Jesus.

c)  Christ ultimately but following Christ.  Accepting and living by and of the Holy Spirit, which encompasses the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-26:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Here, peace especially.

Note:  Passage reference should be Galatians 5:22-26, not Galatians 6:22-26 which doesn’t exist.

4a)  The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.  God has made foolish man’s wisdom when man did not know Him.  God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise–to prove they were foolish.  The Spirit–or God–that indwells in man is what makes him wise.  Otherwise, he’s a fool.

b)  Through the Holy Spirit that indwells man.

c)  Paul came in weakness and fear with much trembling but God gave him the message in wise and persuasive words.  We can only understand God through God’s Spirit so He gives us words taught by the Spirit.

5a)  Pride can blind a man–even a man who has the Spirit within.  Just because we have the Spirit doesn’t mean the Spirit always speaks.  Man and his free will can and often does usurp God and God’s wisdom.  Man boasts before God and that is why God chose the lowly.  But even the lowly is at danger of boasting.

When man gets on his high horse and pontificates that he knows better than God, then divisions arise.  Paul argues that Christ is not divided.  The message (God’s word) is the same.  It does not change.  It is man’s interpretation of God’s words that causes divisions.  But if we (man) allow the Spirit to speak spiritual truths then unity can and will occur.

b)  If we truly understand the message of the cross and the power of salvation through it; that we all have a new life (one born out of Jesus), then divisions should not exist.  Unity should prevail since this is the ultimate message of God and His word.  If we live like Jesus, the pettiness of these squabbles should be apparent.

Alas, they are not.  We take for granted what Jesus has done for us on the cross and we do let pride hinder God’s wisdom, which makes man act foolish.

Conclusions:  Great eye-opening lesson on God’s wisdom versus man’s.  We often think we are wise when so often we are foolish because we are not acting out of the Spirit.  We are blind to the Spirit within due to pride and every other fault/sin of mankind.

Since I was recently church-shopping again I noticed just how many different denominations are out there nowadays.  Most of the beliefs were similar but everyone tweaked it just a bit.  I like this message of unity.  The overarching message is this:  Christ died for our sins.  If you accept Christ, you will be like Christ with an indwelt Holy Spirit and you will be saved. Everything else (all the other variances on the Bible) is a very distant second.

If we can remember the main message and act out of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, discord and divisions should never exist within the Church.  Of course, this is not reality.  But it’s what Paul’s trying to plead here.

Map of Corinth:  Shows just how strategic Corinth was in relation to the Roman World.

http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CNM21-Pauls3rdJourney.gif

Corinth was second only to Rome with a population of 700,000 in Paul’s time and it was known as a town of sinners much like Las Vegas is today.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 14, Day 5: Acts 18:1-22

Summary of passage:  Paul next journeyed to Corinth where he met a tentmaker named Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, whom he stayed with and helped for a time.  He preached every Sabbath in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks to accept Jesus.  Having little luck after months of preaching, Paul one day announces he is giving up, telling the Jews it will be on their heads they haven’t accepted Jesus and he will turn to the Gentiles now.

Paul did have some success, converting Titius Justus and Crispus.

The Lord then encouraged Paul in a vision:  “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you.”  Paul stayed for another year and a half.

The Jews tried to attack Paul by bringing charges against him in Achaia in front of Gallio.  Gallio dismissed the complaint, telling them to work out their squabbles on their own since the matter was within their (Jewish) own law.  Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, was beaten because of it.

Questions:

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I am at my lowest, usually something happens to pull me up:  a comment from someone, a hug from a child, a word, something in the Bible, or a peaceful night’s rest.  God comes alongside us in unexpected ways to encourage and tell us not to be afraid; to remind us to trust in Him.  It encourages me to focus on my writing despite the chaos around me.

16a)  It seems to me he had an attitude of “I can’t be bothered with such petty squabbles.”  He was more important and had much more important things to deal with then an argument he had no interest in.  He didn’t even care Sosthenes was beaten in front of him.  He was indifferent and apathetic.  He probably thought all these people were beneath him since he was a Roman citizen and most Jews were not.

b)  Concern

Conclusions:  The scene with Paul reminds us that God is always with us even in our most trying trials.  The scene with Gallio gives us insight into Roman culture in the first century AD.  If you weren’t Roman, forget about justice.

This scene also shows how something insignificant as this scene  in Gallio’s mind (I doubted he even remembered it) could be so significant to the spread of Christianity.  Gallio (proconsul in 51-52 AD) by his actions officially gave Christianity protection by lumping it into Judaism (a recognized religion within the Roman Empire).  Gallio was the brother to the well-known philosopher Seneca.  His actions gave Paul the protection he needed in order to continue his work in Corinth.

This goes to show how sometimes consequences of our actions are unknown and could have serious ramifications.  Good lesson for everyday decisions in our own lives:  to remember we can’t always see the consequences of our decisions.

End Note:  Map showing Corinth:  http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm