Bible Commentary for Romans 15 thru 2 Corinthians 4
Romans Chapter 15
Paul here encourages those who are spiritually mature to strive to be supportive of those who have weaknesses in the faith and to give consideration to their feelings in matters that don’t involve doctrine. They should not always be trying to please themselves, but should work towards edifying their brothers. The best example to follow is that of Christ who did not please himself but accepted ‘reproaches meant for Jehovah’ upon himself in order to please his God and Father even though it meant untold sufferings and pain. (Psalms 69:9b) Christians can use his and other examples to learn endurance and gain comfort that Jehovah will help them to have this same mental attitude. In this way they will bring glory to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus. Jesus became the one through whom all of God’s promises to Israel would be fulfilled; not only to them but also to the Gentiles who would glorify God because of the mercy He would show to them. (Psalms 18:49; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalms 117:1; Isaiah 11:10)
Paul believes that the Christians at Rome are competent enough to be able to admonish one another but he writes to them simple to reemphasize certain things to them. Because of the commission given him to take the good news to the nations, he has the priestly duty to make sure that they, as an offering to Jehovah, are acceptable to Him being, as they are, sanctified by holy spirit. He is very proud of what has been accomplished by Jesus through him, as many from the nations have become obedient to the good news by means of his words and deeds. He tells them how extensive and thorough his ministry has been, reaching from Jerusalem to Illyricum, a Roman providence northwest of Macedonia.
It is his continued desire to take the good news further to places where it has not yet reached so that he will not be building upon another’s foundation. (Isaiah 52:15) So he plans to go to Spain but would like to visit them on his way there. First he has to go to Jerusalem to take to those there some monetary help that had been provided by the brothers in Macedonia and Achaia. Paul speaks of these Gentile congregations as being in indebted to the holy ones in Jerusalem because these ones had given spiritual things to them and they should feel obligated to help them with their physical needs. Paul would, after completing this mission, began his journey to see them. Paul wants the Roman Christians to pray that he not be delivered up to the unbelieving Jews while he was in Jerusalem so that he will be able to come to them and gain refreshment from his association with them.
Romans Chapter 16
As Paul closes his letter to these Christians, he mentions many of the men and women that he has been in close association with through the years of his ministry. He encourages them to welcome Phoebe, who is a minister from the congregation in Cenchreae, Greece. He sends greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, who assisted him in Corinth and a host of other people that he either knew or had heard of. (Acts 18: 2) The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume II, page 600, says concerning these persons listed in this chapter. “Paul is taking advantage of all the ties he has with this congregation that he hopes to visit in the near future. To send greetings to specific individuals in churches where he knew virtually the entire congregation would expose Paul to the charge of favoritism. But the congregation at Rome was not such a church.”
He then exhorts them to be watchful of those who cause trouble and difficulties among them. These should be avoided because they are only satisfying their own selfish ambitions. They use flattery and smooth talk to undermine the faith of those who are naïve and inexperienced who cannot determine their real motivations. This congregation is noted for its obedience and Paul wants them to be able to recognize problems before they get a foothold and to be able to take steps to circumvent them. He encourages them to continue their good work as Jehovah is going to crush Satan under their feet very shortly.
He sends greetings from Timothy and from Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, his relatives. We learn that Tertius is the writer of this letter that Paul dictated to him. He sends his greeting and those of the congregation. Paul closes this letter with praise to Jehovah who can enable them to remain firm according to the good news that he is declaring and according to that preached by Jesus and according to the revealing of the sacred secret that has been held silent for ages past but now has been made manifest. He is the only One who is wise and all glory should go to Him through Jesus Christ forever.
The First Letter to the Corinthians
Paul wrote his first letter from Ephesus in the spring of 55 CE. He was the first to bring the good news to this Grecian city and it was through his work that the congregation was established here. (Acts 18:1-11) The city of Corinth was the capital of the Roman province of Achaia and was a most important seaport. It was a prosperous and cosmopolitan city and was known for immorality, idolatry and loose living of all kinds. There were both Jews and Gentiles in the congregation. He was writing to these Christians because of doctrinal and ethical problems that they were faced with.
1 Corinthians Chapter 1
Paul begins his letter thanking God that these Christians had been enriched by Him through Christ in their ability to speak and in their knowledge and in the gifts that they had received while they were waiting for the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because Jehovah is faithful, He would help them to remain firm until the end so that they would not face any condemnation at the revelation of Jesus.
Paul then tells them how important it is that they all speak in agreement, having no divisions, being united in mind and thought. He had learned from those of the house of Chloe that they were divided into four factions, some professing Paul as their leader, some Apollos, some Cephas (Peter) and others, Christ. But Paul says that Christ is now divided. He, Paul, was not impaled for them nor were they baptized in his name. He had himself done very little baptizing which he was grateful for. He had not been sent by Jesus to go baptizing but to preach the good news, which he had done without using persuasiveness or clever words that would have made the torture stake useless.
Their message about the torture stake was foolishness to those who were perishing but it was God’s means of saving for those who believed. He would confound the wisdom of the wise and push it aside. (Isaiah 29:14) Because the world chose its own wisdom, it did not get to know God and God used what the world called foolishness to save those who would put faith in his word. The Jews wanted to see a sign, so to them the fact that Christ was impaled caused them to stumble. The Greeks sought wisdom, so telling them that Christ was impaled was foolishness. But to those who are called, Christ being impaled represents for them God’s power.
God did not call many that were wise in the fleshly sense or many of noble birth. No, but He chose those who were looked down upon, those considered foolish, to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things that he might put the strong to shame so that no one would have the opportunity to boast in His sight. It was Jehovah who enabled them to be in union with Christ; He gave them their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and release by ransom. Now if they want to boast, let them boast in Jehovah. (Jeremiah 9:24)
1 Corinthians Chapter 2
When Paul proclaimed God’s sacred secret to them, it was not with brilliance of speech or cleverness of mind but in weakness with fear and trembling, with demonstrations of God’s spirit and power so that their faith would not be in man’s wisdom but in God’s power. The wisdom that he is speaking about to those who are mature is not that of this system of things but that that God himself foreordained before the system of things came into existence and which He has kept hidden from the rulers of this system. Had he given it to them, they would not have impaled Jesus. But to those who love Him, he has revealed it to them through his spirit for the spirit searches the deep things of God.
The spirit of man understands his inmost thoughts therefore the spirit of God understands the thoughts of God. Their having received the spirit of God has enabled them to know the things that God has given to them and these are the things that they speak about, explaining spiritual matters using spiritual words. The physical man, who does not have the spirit of God, cannot understand these things because they must be examined spiritually. The spiritual man examines all things but he is not examined by any man. No human can have the mind of Jehovah but they can have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians Chapter 3
Because of the divisions that exist between them, Paul views members of this congregation as immature, physical or fleshly. They have been fed milk, the elementary things about salvation, instead of solid food, or the deeper doctrines, as he believes that they were then, and even now, not strong enough to digest these. The jealousy and strife that existed among them was proof of this. They should recognize that those who ministered among, those who planted and watered, are not anything special because it is God who brought about their growth. These men are fellow workers with God but the congregation belongs to God, they are God’s field under cultivation.
According to the undeserved kindness given him by God, Paul has been able to lay a foundation with someone else building on it. Each man should be watchful as to how he builds on the foundation that is Jesus Christ. One can build with gold, silver, precious stones, wood materials, hay or stubble but the builder must remember that the fire of persecution will revealed just how well he built. If his works remain, then he will receive a reward, but if they are burned up he will suffer loss, but he will be saved though all of his work will be lost.
The Christians are God’s temple in which His spirit dwells. Anyone attempting to ruin this temple, God himself will destroy. It is better that anyone who thinks that he is wise, in a worldly sense, should rethink his position and come to grips with the fact that God’s view of this type of wisdom is that it is plain foolishness. As Psalms 94:11 expresses it: “Jehovah knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile.” These Christians should not glorify men, not even Paul, Cephas, Apollos because they and everything else is provided for their benefit and belongs to them and they, in turn, belong to Christ who belongs to Jehovah.
1 Corinthians Chapter 4
The congregation should view Paul as a minister of Christ, as one entrusted with the sacred secrets of God to which he must be faithful. Although their opinion of Paul is of little value to him, as even his own opinion of himself would be, as he cannot see himself for what he really is. Jehovah’s judgment of him is the only one that is reliable and just. So the Christian does not need to judge anyone. The judging will be done when the Lord comes and he will bring to light all the things that have been hidden even the secret things of one’s heart will be made manifest. Then each one will receive his praise from God.
Paul explains that he had used himself and Apollos as examples so that these Christians will understand the saying ‘do not go beyond the things that are written’ and will learn not to view one teacher as more important than another teacher as the scriptures admonish. The Corinthian Christians had begun to boast of having attained to a certain level of maturity but Paul showed them that they were really haughty and immature. They were living as thought they had already received their reward whereas their teachers, the apostles, were being put on exhibition, as it were, in a theater, before being killed by wild animals.
The Corinthians acted as though they had already attained their goal while the apostles were still struggling to attain theirs. They did not have the necessary material needs provided for them as they had to work to maintain themselves. When cursed by men, they bless instead, when persecuted, they exercise patience, even trying to help those who sully their reputation. They are considered as refuse, the scum of the earth.
Paul’s aim in writing to these Christians is to admonish them, as a father would do for his children because he considers himself their spiritual father. He entreats them to imitate him and has sent Timothy to them to help them to know the methods that Paul is teaching in all of the congregations. Paul assures them that he is going to visit them provided it is Jehovah’s will. He will get to know personally what power those pretentious ones in that congregation have over them.
1 Corinthians Chapter 5
There was a report that a man in this congregation is committing fornication of the kind that even the nations condemn, he was living with his father’s wife. The congregation has shown itself to be indifferent because they have taken no action against him and Paul asks them how can they still be so puffed up. Should they not be in mourning to the point where they would have removed this man from among them? Although he is not with them, he has already pronounced judgment on this man. When they are together as a congregation, they are to turn him over to Satan that he might be inflicted to point of repentance so that he can be saved on the day of the Lord.
Their immaturity is painfully obvious; they are not even aware of the strangle hold that allowing such a sin can have on the congregation. The attitude of the entire group towards sin can be affected if the unclean person is not removed. If they are to be a new batch, they must remove all things that cause leaven. He makes reference to the Passover celebration where no leaven was allowed in their houses. Since Christ, their Passover lamb, has been sacrificed, they should celebrate with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness.
When he previously wrote them he told them not to associate with immoral persons he had reference to those in the congregation, those who are called brothers, not those in the world as that would mean that they would have to get out of the world. This would also include any in the congregation that were idolaters, thieves, revilers, or drunkards. These are the ones they are to judge and remove them from their midst.
1 Corinthians Chapter 6
Paul learns that these Christians are taking each other before the worldly courts, whose judges are unrighteous, to settle their disputes. He reminds them that they are to judge the world but if they cannot handle trivial matters among themselves, how can they judge angels. There should be competent men among them that could satisfactorily judge ordinary matters. Why would one believer take a case against another believer before an unbeliever? The fact that there are lawsuits being brought among them shows already that there is something seriously wrong in the congregation. Paul counsels that it is better that one should allow himself to be wronged by his brother rather than trying to get back at him in court. But they were busy wronging and defrauding each other.
Paul reminds them that those who are wrongdoers will not enter the kingdom. Those who are fornicators, idolaters adulterers, prostitutes, thieves, drunkards, etc., will never inherit the kingdom of God. Many of those in the congregation had come from just such a background as Corinth was infamous as a particularly licentious city, but because they had been cleaned up, they were now justified in the name of Jesus and in the spirit of Jehovah.
Paul states that even though all things may be lawful for him but this does not necessarily mean that they are beneficial as some things can become enslaving. Some in the congregation were arguing that certain things were natural and necessary such as eating food and satisfying sexual desires. Paul disagreed that these two things are on the same level. Food is necessary for the body but immoral sex is devastating for a Christian. Christians are members of the body of Christ and they should never make their bodies one with a prostitute. They are now united with Christ and have become one spirit with him. Therefore they would shun fornication, as this is the one sin, out of all the sins one may commit, that would be a sin committed against the body itself. Since the Christians body is where God’s spirit dwells, then they would use their bodies to glorify God, as they do not belong to themselves.
1 Corinthians Chapter 7
Members of this congregation had written a letter posing several questions to him about marriage and he would now answer them. First he dealt with the question of whether a Christian should marry. Because of the prevalence of sexual immorality, he believed that they should marry. He also advises that normal sexual behaviors should be observed in the marriage, that each should give to the other their conjugal rights and should not withhold this unless both agree to it and this only for a specified time period. If they do anything else they will leave themselves open to attack by Satan because of their lack of self-control. Paul was not married and he thought it preferable that all should be as he was but he knew that they all did not possess this particular gift or capability.
His advice to those who were already married is that the two should remain together but if some circumstance should dictate that they separate, then they would remain unmarried unless they decide to reconcile. If one mate in the marriage was not a Christian but was agreeable to continue living with the Christian, then they should remain together because the unbeliever would be sanctified through the believer and their children would be viewed as clean. But if the unbeliever wants to leave, then let them do so in order that the Christian can keep the peace that God has given him. But if the unbeliever remains in the household, it is possible that he may be converted to Christianity.
The NIV Bible Commentary, page 627, says this concerning the unbeliever in this marriage: “The word ‘sanctified’ does not refer to moral purity - Paul is certainly not teaching that the unbelieving partner is made morally pure through a believing spouse. What the word emphasizes is a relationship to God, a claim of God on the person and family to be set apart for him (cf. Acts 20:32; 26:18). The tense of the verb stresses that the unbeliever who is in a Christian family has already become and continues to be a part of a family unit upon which God has his claim and which he will use for his service. The same is true of children born in such a family. They are ‘holy’ and not ‘unclean’ – i.e., not spiritually separated from God as is the case in unbelieving families.”
Paul also counsels these Christians not to be concerned about changing their status simply because they have become Christians. If they were slaves, they should not seek to become free but should take advantage of their current status to show that they are slaves of Christ, which is the ultimate freedom. He concludes this matter by saying that it is better that a Christian remains in the state he was in when God called him.
Paul explains that he has no specific command from Jesus concerning unmarried women but will give his opinion which he knows is trustworthy. They should remain as they are in view of the critical times. It is not a sin to marry but they must keep in mind that if one decided to marry, he will experience many distressing situations and they could be spared that. Because of the shortness of time, even those who are married would do well to live as though they were not married. He stresses that since the world, as they know it, is near to passing away, they should not put too much emphasis on possessions or existing conditions as they will not last.
Therefore he was striving to keep them from being burdened down with external things but to focus on the affairs of the Lord, as these were what was most important. Married persons tend to focus on their mates as how to please them but unmarried individuals had no such hindrances and could be wholly devoted to the affairs of the Christ. So Paul still holds out to these unmarried Christians the thought that remaining single is the best state to be in although he does not forbid marriage. If a marriage mate dies, that would free the other mate to remarry and Paul recommends that, if this person were desirous of remarrying, he would only marry another Christian. Still he advises that it would be better for them to remain unmarried.
1 Corinthians Chapter 8
Paul now deals with the issue of whether it is wrong for a Christian to eat food that has been sacrificed to idols. He reasons that a Christian knows that an idol is not real and that there is only one God even though there are many that are called ‘god’ and ‘lord.’ But the Christian is only aware of one true God from whom everything comes and one Lord, through whom everything exists including themselves. This is the viewpoint of the mature Christian but not everyone in the congregation has this understanding especially those who were accustomed to worshipping idols. To them food offered to an idol still has meaning and so if they ate this food, their weak consciences would become defiled. Therefore in order not to stumble such a one, then the mature Christian would refrain from eating such food in a temple. He would not want to encourage his brother to do something that would damage his faith and maybe cause him to lose his life. This would be a sin not only against his brother but also against Christ who died for this one also. Paul concludes that for himself he would never eat meat again so that he would not cause any of his brothers to fall.
1 Corinthians Chapter 9
Paul now brings forth his argument against those who would accuse him. As an apostle he does have certain rights among those that he had slaved for. He has the right to expect these ones to provide food and drink for him so that he does not have to work just as the other apostles are provided for. Just as any soldier receives expenses for his service in the army or anyone who plants a vineyard shares in the fruit that it produces, then he also has the right to share in the material benefits of those among whom he has sown some spiritual good. In the Law of Moses, provision were made for the animals that did the threshing of the grain, but Paul argues that this was not written for the benefit of the animals but was written for the benefit of humans. (Deuteronomy 25:4)
But he and Barnabas had not taken advantage of this right so that no obstacle would be put in the way of these Christians’ progress in the good news. Just as the priest who officiate at the temple receive their living from the temple so Jehovah has ordained that those who proclaim the good news should get their living from those who accept the good news. (Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:8)
Paul has not and will not make use of this right because he does not want his boast nullified that he is unselfishly serving them. Yes he is under obligation to preach the good news, willingly or unwillingly, and his reward is that he will have done so free of charge to anyone. He has made himself a slave to all that he might gain more slaves for Christ. He behaved like a Jew in order to win them; he behaved as though he was outside the law in order to win those outside the law. All of this he did so that he might save some and that he might have a share in the blessings of the good news.
All the runners in a race run so as to win the crown but only one succeeds. Christians can all run so as to win an unfading crown. To continue to be successful Paul explains that he has to become master of his body so that he is not somehow disqualified after he has preached to others.
1 Corinthians Chapter 10
Paul now reminds these Christians at Corinth of the experiences that the nation of Israel had and how they lost the race. They were all under the cloud and passed through the sea and were all baptized into Moses and they all drank the same spiritual food and drink from the rock that followed them, which represented Christ. But all of them did not succeed in reaching their goal because they did not obey and were struck down in the desert.
They set an example of what a Christian would not want to do by craving evil things. Some became idolators bowing down to the golden calf that they made. Others committed sexual immorality with the Baal of Peor and 23, 000 of them fell in one day. Others put Jehovah to the test and were destroyed by serpents. Some became complainers and Jehovah sent his angel to destroy them. Christians can certainly learn from their experiences and so Jehovah had this information recorded for their benefit. They must not be so smug as to think that they cannot fall. All can expect tests to come but Jehovah will not allow them to be tested beyond what they can endure. He will provide the means to help the person endure the test. (Exodus 32:1-6; Numbers 14:37; 21:6; 25:1-9)
Christians should flee from the worship of idol. When they partake of the evening meal of Christ are they not sharing in his body? When the Israelites ate the sacrificial meal were they not partners with the altar? Paul is not trying to say that idols are anything, but that the sacrifices that pagans offer are offered to the demons and not to God and he does not want them to be in partnership with demons. They cannot drink from Jehovah’s cup and from the cup of the demons unless they are trying to incite Jehovah to jealousy. That would not be the right attitude to have, as they are not stronger than He is.
Paul now returns to food sacrificed to idols. He tells them that whatever meat is sold in the meat markets can be eaten without questioning where it came from. If they are invited to a meal at the home of an unbeliever and they choose to go then they should eat whatever he sets before them without asking any question concerning its origin. But if someone volunteers the information that the meat had been sacrifices to an idol, then the believer would not want to eat it out of consideration for the conscience of the one that told him about the meat.
It may seem strange that one’s conscience is at the mercy of another person’s conscience, but Paul wants them to recognize that no matter what they are doing, it must be done for the glory of Jehovah. So one would not want to place a stumbling block anyone, either Jews, Gentiles or other Christians. Paul set the example in that he is interested in pleasing others rather than seeking his own advantage so that he might save some of them. So he encourages these Christians to be imitators of him as he imitates Christ.
1 Corinthian Chapter 11
Paul now commends these Christians because they hold to the teachings that he passed on to them. In the congregational arrangement, a certain hierarchical order is to be observed. Since God is the head of Christ, who is the head of man and husband are the head of their wives, then in the congregation, a man will not pray with his head covered nor will a wife pray without covering her head. If the man covers his head when he prays, he is disgracing his head as he has authority over the woman. If a woman prays without a head covering, she too is disgracing her head. He equates a woman praying without a head covering with her shaving her head, which is also disgraceful.
Man reflects the glory of God but woman reflects the glory of man. He says this because man was created first and the woman was created from man. So for this reason, she should have her head covered when praying and also for the sake of the angels who are looking on. Yet, in the Lord men and women are not really independent of each other. Initially, woman came from man but in the order of birth, man comes from woman. Additional he states that a woman’s hair is her glory, but it is unnatural and disgraceful for a man to have long hair. This is the standard that all the congregations observe and are proper as they are under the Christian Covenant and these rulings reflect the status of women after Jehovah cursed Eve. For a discussion of the status of women under the Scapegoat Covenant, see the Bible Commentary for Genesis 3:16.
Paul now proceeds to an area wherein he cannot commend these Christians. He tells them that when they meet together as a congregation, there is evidence of divisions among them. These divisions may be there to show clearly who is a genuine Christian and who is not. When they come together for the Lord’s Supper, they would eat and drink the emblems as though they were having a regular meal as they would if they were at home, some getting drunk on the wine, others eating all of the bread thereby leaving nothing for latecomers to eat. It appears that they were making a mockery of this celebration.
He then explains to them how the celebration took place on the night that it was instituted and reminds them that Jesus told his disciples that when they commemorated this meal, it was to be done to proclaim his death until he returned. If these Christians were not observing it with this thought in mind, then they were handling it in an unworthy manner and would subsequently bring judgment upon themselves. This may be the reason many among them were weak and sick, some even having died. He recommends that they take stock of themselves so that they would not have to be disciplined by the Lord. If they are hungry they should eat a meal at home before coming to the celebration and they should not begin the celebration until everyone had arrived.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12
Paul discusses spiritual gift with the congregation. There are a variety of gifts but they all emanate from the same spirit, a variety of services that come from the same Lord and a variety of activities in which the same God is active. Each person is given a gift that serves for a beneficial purpose. Some are given utterances of wisdom, some have knowledge, some have faith, another is given ability to heal, to work miracles, others have the gift of prophesy, another can discern inspired utterances, still others speak in tongues and another can interpret the tongue. These different gifts are all distributed by the same spirit to each one as it sees fit.
Paul then uses the example of the human body to make his point. The body is one but it has different parts. The foot cannot say it does not belong to the body because it is not a hand nor can the ear say that because it is not an eye, it does not belong to the body. If the whole body were an eye there would be no hearing, no sense of smell, taste or feeling hence it would not be a body. God arranged the member of the body as He saw fit. No member can say to another member that it is dispensable. Those members that seem weak turn out to be the ones that are treated with the most respect, whereas, those that are strongest don’t need this respect. So that there will no division among the body, God arranged the body so that greater honor will be given the inferior members.
These Christians are individual member of Christ’s body and God has arranged them as he sees fit. The apostles have been put first in the congregation, then prophets, then teachers, next powerful works, then gifts of healing, helpful services, leadership ability then various tongues. Each has his own particular gift as God has arranged for but there is an even greater gift that they should strive for.
1 Corinthians Chapter 13
In this chapter, Paul explains the one gift of the spirit that all should strive to obtain. He mentions several gifts of the spirit and says that these would not be worth anything if they were not combined with love. He describes love as being patient and kind; it is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude. It is does not pursue its own advantage, does not become irritable, does not keep account of evil, does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in truth. It endures all things, is trusting but not gullible, always hopeful, and will continue after all else has faded. It will never cease to exist although all other gifts will cease.
Paul also realized that their understanding of prophecy was only partial, that is, they were not experiencing the complete fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies in his day. This would mean that what he was writing at that time that became a part of scripture would not be the last word. When the complete fulfillment came into being, this would take precedent. He used the example of a child who would not be expected to do anything other than childish things, but when he grew into an adult, then all childish things would put aside. He likened his current understanding of prophecy to looking into a metal mirror that did not reflect a clear image, so he looked forward to seeing the time when he would see all things clearly. For now there are faith, hope and love of which love is the greatest gift. For a further discussion of this matter, see the article “When That Which is Complete Arrives” at this link:
http://www.livingwatersforum.com/forum/ ... .php?t=162
1 Corinthians Chapter 14
These Christians are admonished to strive for love along with the spiritual gifts especially prophesying. Prophesying is to be desired because it is upbuilding, encouraging and consoling to all members of the congregation. Speaking in tongues requires someone to interpret in order that it is beneficial to others. Paul compared speaking in tongues with musical instruments that can produce sound but if they are not played by someone who knows how to produce pleasing sound, one cannot identify a tune. Of what value is a bugle that does not produce the distinctive battle cry so the soldiers will prepare for battle? Since hearing the message in a tongue or foreign language does not edify anyone, the person with this gift should pray for the ability to interpret what he is speaking.
Paul was able to speak many languages but for him it was more beneficial to be able to teach with his mind than speaking thousands of words in foreign tongues. The members of this congregation seem more enamored of speaking in tongues than they are of prophesying. Although tongues are more for the benefit of the unbeliever, prophesying can also benefit him. If an unbeliever visits a congregation and the members of the congregation are prophesying in unity, the things that are said there can help him see that he is a sinner. He may then begin to examine himself and find that the secrets of his heart are laid bare and will recognize that God is truly dealing with this congregation.
Paul tells them that their meetings should be orderly with the goal of building up the members. If someone wants to speak in a tongue then he should know before he speaks if there is someone there to interpret. If there is not, then he should remain silent. He also encourages them to allow only one or two who are prophets to speak so that the members will have time to give consideration to what has been said. Paul wanted their meeting to be upbuilding and not a free for all and become disorderly, as this would not reflect well on God who is a ‘God of order and peace.’
Women are not allowed to enter discussions or speak publicly in these meetings. If they have questions they can ask their husbands when they are at home. This is also a reflection of the cursed condition of women because of Eve’s sin. The Corinthian congregation may have had other ideas or views on this subject but Paul states in no uncertain terms that he has the authority to set these rules. If there is anyone there who claims to be inspired, he ought to be able recognize that what Paul is writing is from the Lord. If he cannot, then his claim to inspiration cannot be verified.
1 Corinthians Chapter 15
Paul now reminds them of the good news that he had preached to them and they had accepted and were now firmly established in and that was saving them provided they held firmly to it. This message of the good news was that Christ had died for their sins, was buried and was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. He had appeared first to Peter, then the twelve and later to five hundred brothers and sisters, his fleshly brother James then again to the apostles. Lastly, he appeared to Paul who considered himself the least of the apostles because he had persecuted the Christians. Jehovah had shown him loving-kindness and it had not been done in vain because Paul had become a tireless worker in proclaiming the good news.
Some in the congregation were saying that the dead would not be resurrected. He reminds them that if this is true, then Christ had not been resurrected, the message that they were proclaiming was meaningless, their faith was meaningless and their sins have not been forgiven and there is no hope for those who have already died. They would be preaching a lie in God’s name and they, whose hope of eternal life is based on the resurrection of the dead, are the ones who are most pitiable.
But Paul unequivocally states that Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. Death came to all men by means of one man, Adam, and men will be made alive through one man, Christ. He now gives the order of the resurrection: Christ is resurrected first, then at his second coming in 70 CE, he will resurrect those who belong to him, first century Christians. The last resurrection will occur at the end, during our modern day, when he rids the earth of all satanic rulership, after which he will hand the kingdom back to his Father. Christ rules until God has put all of his enemies under his feet and these enemies included death. When God subjected all things under Christ’s feet, these things did not include God himself but after all things have been made subject to the son, then the son will subject himself to his Father so that He will be recognized as the supreme ruler by everyone.
Paul reasons with these persons that if there is no resurrection from the dead then all of the hard work that they are doing is to no avail. What is the point of their facing danger and even death on a daily basis? Paul quotes from Isaiah 22:13 that they may as well ‘eat and drink, for tomorrow they were to die.” He then warned the other Christians to beware of these men, who were teaching false doctrine, as they were bad associates. Paul now quotes the Greek dramatist, Menander (c.342-291) who said: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (NWT) They were to be sober in a righteous way and not practice sin as some in the congregation were doing because they have no knowledge of God. It should have been a shameful thing to these Christians that Paul had to speak to them in this manner.
Paul realized that some will have questions concerning what sort of bodies the resurrected dead will have. He explains that they know that a seed does not germinate unless it dies. When they sow a seed, it is not in the form that will eventually be produced. Each different kind of seed that is planted produces a different kind of body. So it is with fleshly bodies, they are not all the same. There is the flesh of humans, that of animals, birds and fish and they are all different. In the inanimate world, the brightness of the sun differs from that of the moon and the stars. There are heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies, both differ from each other.
Those resurrected from the dead are sown in corruption, dishonor and weakness but are resurrected in incorruption, glory and power. It is a physical body at death but is raised a spiritual body. God made Adam from the dust of the ground, but the second Adam came from heaven. Just as all humans bore the image of the first man, so many will bear the image of Jesus, the heavenly one. Flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom anymore than that which is corruptible possesses that which is incorruptible. Paul now shares a sacred secret with them. He tells them that not every Christian will die before Christ returns. Those who remain will receive an instantaneous change from that which is corruptible to that that is incorruptible. At the last trumpet, the dead will be raised to incorruption and immortality and those still alive will be changed at this time also. When this occurs, the scripture will be fulfilled that says ‘death will be swallowed up forever.’ (Isaiah 25:8) The sting that produced death, sin, will be gone. (Hosea 13:14) So Paul advises these Christians to keep busy in the work of the Lord, remaining steadfast and unmovable, as their labors will not be in vain.
PLEASE NOTE: A most curious and yet remarkably prodigious point must be made at this juncture, especially relative to the original Divine Promise given at Genesis 3:15. And what is that?
Let's consider 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26 which says:
"For he must rule as king until [God] has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing." (New World Translation)
Well, think ... if the "last enemy" that is to be removed is clearly said to be "death" as bible prophecy indicates (Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14), and just as we have read above in 1st Corinthians 15:25, 26, then we must ask a most provocative question, namely:
How can Satan the Devil be done away with or shall we say "bruised in the head," yes destroyed or put to death by Jesus Christ, God's Heavenly King ... how can such a thing be, if the "rule" or "reign" of Jesus has already COME TO AN END, per the insightful comments of 1 Corinthians 15:25, we ask at the YORWW???
Yes, isn't it true, 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26 clearly shows us, Jesus only "rules" or "reigns" UNTIL...UNTIL he does away with the "last enemy," which in this specific instance, actually proves to be death? Isn't that so?
And then, the "reign" or "rule" of Jesus ends, isn't that so???
Therefore, if Jesus' heavenly reign ends ... ends with the full removal of "death," the "last enemy" per comments from 1 Corinthians 15:26, then it is clear is it not, yes most clear that Jesus Christ actually does NOT destroy Satan the Devil, no but it is actually Jehovah God Himself, who righteously DESTROYS SATAN, which of course is exactly what Romans 16:20 brings out. Think about it!
Therefore, this small bit of information provided above, shows us the "seed of the woman" mentioned in Genesis 3:15 then, does NOT actually "bruise" Satan in the "head," as many religionists today believe. No, but the actual "bruising" action initiated by the "seed of the woman," then must be directed to his already foretold earthly (not heavenly) "enemy," yes the one that God specifically put real "enmity" against for this "seed," namely the "seed of Satan." God put "enmity" between the two (2) "seeds," namely the "seed of the woman," and the "seed of the Serpent" [or Devil].
Yes, Jehovah God predicted He, Himself would put actual "enmity" between the "seed of the woman" and the "seed of the Serpent" [namely Satan the Devil], isn't that true? And of course, that actual "seed of the Serpent" [Satan] would prove to be the one spoken of in Revelation 16:13, 14, 16, yes the one that is destroyed fully at the battle of "Armageddon" itself namely, the "false prophet," and his great collaborator in wickedness, the "wild beast." Therefore, the “seed of the woman,” namely the Modern Day “Servant” of Isaiah 49:1-7, will issue the command to finally destroy all wicked government and religious opposers of God’s newly established Earthly Kingdom ... as depicted by a “long sword” proceeding out of his “mouth” to rid the earth of all unrighteousness. -- Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:15, 19-20
Think about it!
1 Corinthians Chapter 16
Paul now writes them concerning the collections for the holy ones in Jerusalem. They are to do just as he counseled the Galatian congregation to do, set aside these contributions at the beginning of the week so that when he came they would not need to take up any collections. They would also choose the men who would be entrusted to carry their gift to Jerusalem. After he had completed his assignment in Macedonia, he planned to stay with them during the winter and they could accompany him partway as he continued his journey to Judea. But he would for the present remain in Ephesus until Pentecost because he had much work to do there. After sending some personal messages, he admonishes them to stay awake, remain firm in the faith and to let their affairs take place with love. He relays greeting to them from other congregations and individuals and concludes this letter by saying that the undeserved kindness of Jesus should be with them and his love would be with them in union with Christ Jesus.
The Second Letter to the Corinthians
This letter was written in fall of 56, possibly a year and a half after the first letter was written. Several reasons are given for the writing of this letter: 1) He wanted to express his great relief and delight that they responded to his ‘severe letter;’ 2) He wanted to exhort them to complete their promised collection for the saints at Jerusalem before he visited them, and 3) He wanted them to learn the proper criteria for distinguishing between ‘false apostles’ and the authentic ones so that he would be spared the pain of having to discipline them.
2 Corinthians Chapter 1
Paul identifies himself as the writer of this letter along with Timothy their brother. He opens with a giving of thanks to Jehovah who is the source of all mercy and comfort that comforts them in their trials so that they can, in turn, comfort others. The more they share in the sufferings of Christ; the better able they are to give encouragement to the brothers to help them endure. If the brothers continue to share the suffering, they will also share the comfort.
He tells them of the difficulties that they experienced in Asia. They were so overwhelmed and the burden placed on them so heavy that they believed that they were about to die. Paul thinks that the reason for their having this impending sense of disaster was so that they would rely upon Jehovah more and not trust in themselves. He had preserved them at that time and would do so again. Paul asked that they join with other Christians in offering prayer for him so that there would be many who would give thanks for the graciousness granted to him by Jehovah at the behest of their many prayers.
He wrote that he had done nothing of which to be ashamed in his dealings with this congregation but had acted in the holiness and sincerity that come from God. What he had written to them did not contain any hidden meanings and should have been easy for them to understand. He hopes that they will come to understanding him better and that they will have as much reason to be proud of him as he will have for them in the day of the Lord.
The reason he had planned to visit them was that he was sure that they were of this frame of mind. He had even planned to visit them twice, on his way to Macedonia and on his return trip and they could then go partway with him to Judea. He was not insincere in making these plan just as he was not insincere when he, Timothy and Silas brought the good news to them. Paul is so distressed over this charge that he invokes the trustworthiness of God as witness to his own sincerity. He had not come as planned so that he could spare their feelings as he does not view himself as master of their faith but only fellow workers with them for their joy. It is by their own faith that they are standing.
2 Corinthians Chapter 2
Paul tells them that he had decided not pay them a second distressing visit. He knew that his visit had caused some pain and that was the last thing that he wanted to do. The letter that he had written to them had been very difficult for him to write, he even shed tears over it. His aim was not to pain them but to show them how much he really cared for them. But someone in the congregation had caused them pain. As a congregation they had agreed to remove him from their midst and the punishment had been successful. The man had repented and was now ready to be reinstated, so Paul encouraged them to forgive him in order that he would not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. If they forgave him, then he too would forgive him for their sake. They would not want to allow Satan to gain any victories, because they were well aware of his methods.
Paul went to Troas because an opportunity to spread the good news had opened up for him there. He was saddened because he did not find Titus there so he left there and went to Macedonia. He was exultant because Jehovah was using them to spread the good news like a sweet smell everywhere. They are the incense of Christ offered to God both among those who are perishing and among those who are being saved. For those who are perishing, it is the scent of death and to those being saved, it is the fragrance of life itself. They were not peddlers of the word of God as some are but they declare the word in sincerity, as from God and in His sight, as members of Christ.
2 Corinthians Chapter 3
After speaking to the congregation about his role as an apostle, some may wonder if he is again trying to commend himself to the brothers as though he needed to be recommended to them. But he assures them that he does not need letters to recommend him to the brothers as they are his letter of recommendation written not on paper but on our hearts, a letter that came from Christ written with the spirit of God on human hearts. Paul’s qualification to be an apostle comes from God; He has made them ministers of the new covenant that comes through the spirit. The written code condemned to death but the spirit gives life. The written code did, however, come into existence through much glory and splendor. This splendor was such that Moses’ face became so bright that the people could not look upon him. Therefore the new covenant, brought about by spirit, must have even greater glory as it brought about acquittal from sin. The glory of the written code would fade and be replaced by that which would endure.
As a result of this hope brought by the new covenant, Paul is able to speak with great freeness of speech. Moses had to cover his face until the brightness faded from it. Paul explains that the reason Moses took this action was because the Israelites were unworthy to behold even the temporary glory that would eventually fade. (Deuteronomy 29:4) He says that even at this present time their minds were still dulled and the veil is still there whenever the Law Covenant is read. It is only when the nation repents and accepts Christ that this veil will be removed. Jehovah is the spirit and where his spirit is there is freedom. Therefore Christians do not need to veil their faces as they reflect His glory like mirrors.
2 Corinthians Chapter 4
Since through God’s mercy they have been entrusted with this ministry, they do not give up as they renounce the secret and shameful things, not using deception or distorting the Word of God. If the good news that they preach is veiled, it is veiled for those who refuse to believe, whose minds have been blinded by God himself so that they might not be able to understand this message. He does this because it is their choice to close their eyes and ears as Isaiah 6:9, 10 brings out. For those who are receptive to the good news, Jehovah has allowed the ‘light to shine out of darkness’ for them and has illuminated their hearts with His glorious knowledge as seen in Christ Jesus. (Genesis 1:3)
Jehovah chose to use them, vessels of earthenware, to contain this priceless treasure in order to show that the power behind this message belongs to God and not to men. They may be hard-pressed on every side but are never hemmed in; bewildered, but never at their wits end; persecuted, but never abandoned to this fate; struck down, but never left to die. They continually endure the sufferings given to Jesus so that his life would be manifest in their bodies. They are constantly exposed to death, which gives them the opportunity to show the power of Jesus in their mortal bodies. Their preaching of the good news is the reason they face death, but it has meant eternal to those who listened.
The psalmist David wrote in Psalms 116:10: “I exercise faith, therefore I spoke.” Paul also echoes this sentiment as he too believed and then spoke. He knows that the One who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise them up and they, along with the rest of the brothers, will all stand together before him. He tells them that all these things are being done for their sake because as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be more offerings of prayers of thanksgiving, all to the glory of Jehovah.
They therefore do not give up. The man on the outside may be wearing out but they are constantly being renewed on the inside daily. The troubles that they face are transitory and these are working out a glory for them that is worth much more and is everlasting. So they keep their eyes fixed on the things that are unseen because the things that are seen are temporary and those that are unseen are permanent.
***©2006 by YORWW Congregation
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