1 Corinthians 3-4

Chapters 3 and 4 are in many ways a continuation of the topics that comprise chapters 1 and 2. In these two chapters Paul will (1) scold them for dividing up over preachers, which as a sign of immaturity, (2) instruct them in the proper evaluation of preachers, and (3) address their arrogance that had shown itself in their arguments and divisions over preachers.

I. Chapter 3

A. Their divisions were signs of worldliness and immaturity (3:1-4).

1. While he was with them in person, Paul considered the Corinthians spiritual infants and fed them accordingly. But they had not grown sufficiently in the meantime.

2. Their jealousy and strife were the evidence of their worldliness and immaturity.

B. How to properly assess preachers (3:5-15)

1. Preachers are merely servants; God deserves all the credit for kingdom growth (5-9).

2. Preachers will be judged on how they build on the foundation of Jesus (10-15).

C. The danger of destroying the church, God’s temple (3:16-17). By creating factions within the congregation, they were destroying God’s dwelling place.

D. Though they thought they were wise, their boasting in mere men was foolish (3:18-23).

1. In order for them to be wise in God’s sight they would have to show themselves to be foolish by worldly standards.

2. Though it was culturally relevant and acceptable to line up behind one’s teacher, it was not to be that way in the church.

II. Chapter 4

A. Preachers are servants whom God will judge (4:1-5).

1. The Corinthians had judged Paul, Apollos, Peter, and others as being worthy of too much praise.

2. Paul reminds them that God’s assessment of them will be the only one that ultimately matters.

B. The Corinthians should not go beyond what is written, for doing so only leads to arrogant boasting against each other (4:6-13).

1. Their perceived wisdom, which was mere foolishness to God, led them to develop an ugly arrogance.

2. But Paul sarcastically informs them that he – the teacher that many of them highly esteemed – did not exhibit this kind of arrogance. So why would they?

C. Paul warns them, as a father would his son, to get their affairs in order before he comes (4:14-20).

1. He wasn’t writing them just to shame them. He wanted to reform them.

2. In a way, he was their spiritual father. The church came to exist in Corinth through his preaching of the gospel. Therefore, he spoke to them as a loving father would to his erring son.

III. Practical Applications

A. Christians should grow beyond milk to solid food (3:1-4; Heb. 5:11-6:12; James 3:13-18).

B. Be careful not to elevate preachers (3:5-7; 4:1-5).

C. Teachers/preachers must take their roles seriously (3:10-15; James 3:1; 1 Tim. 4:11-16).

D. One should think long and hard before he does something that causes division in the church (3:16-17; Rom. 12:18).

E. Nothing that contradicts God should be called wisdom (3:18-20; James 3:13-18).

F. Stewards must be faithful (4:1; Matt. 25:14-30).

G. Pride is a dangerous thing, for it elevates man and brings down God (4:8-13).

H. Sometimes love requires sternness (4:14-20; Rev. 3:19).

1 Corinthians 1-2

After a brief salutation and expression of gratitude, Paul gets down to business. He had received a report from a family in Corinth about the existence of contentious divisions in the church. In the first two chapters the apostle not only addresses the sinfulness of their factions, he also addresses an underlying cause, namely, a misplaced elevation of human wisdom.

I. Chapter 1

A. Salutation (1:1-3)

B. Gratitude (1:4-9)

1. As is typically the case, Paul expresses gratitude for the recipients of his letter while offering insight into the contents of his prayers for them.

2. He is grateful for their reception of God’s grace, that they have been enriched in Christ, and that they lack no spiritual gift.

C. Division over preachers (1:10-17)

1. Here Paul begins addressing their problems, the first of which is division. Having heard from Chloe’s family of their divisions, Paul appeals to them to be united (10-11).

2. Though they were dividing based on personal loyalties to preachers involved in their conversions, Paul takes their focus to Christ, the gospel, and the cross (12-17).

D. God’s wisdom in Christ (1:18-25)

1. The cross is foolish to those who don’t understand it. But for those who do, it is God’s power to save (18).

2. God’s plan for the redemption of man – a plan with the cross at its center – may seem foolish to some, but it is actually the embodiment of God’s power and wisdom (19-25).

E. Jesus is the only ground for boasting (1:26-31)

1. Paul reminds them that they were not among the wise, powerful, or upper classes. Yet God called them in the body of Christ (26-28).

2. There is nothing in the gospel message, properly understood, that would lead one to boast in himself. Our only basis for boasting is in what Jesus has done for us (29-31).

II. Chapter 2

A. The pre-eminence of Christ in Paul’s preaching (2:1-5)

1. Paul didn’t utilize lofty speech or human wisdom when he preached to them. He just preached Christ crucified. Truth be told, he was actually scared to death (1-3).

2. But he preached “in demonstration of the Spirit and power,” so that they would not elevate him (Paul), but magnify God (4-5).

B. The wisdom of God revealed (2:6-16)

1. The message of Paul’s preaching was the revelation of the “mystery,” that is, God’s eternal purpose for the redemption of man. This message was revealed to Paul and the other apostles by the Holy Spirit (6-13).

2. The person who is governed solely by worldly standards will not accept the spiritual nature of the gospel message (14-16).

III. Application Lessons

A. God’s grace is amazing (1:4-5). We should be grateful for it (4). It is God’s gift (4). It is in Christ (4). It makes us rich (5). It is responsible for what we accomplish in the kingdom (5).

B. We should have confidence in each other (1:8-9). Though they had many problems, Paul was confident that they would fix them and not forfeit their eternal salvation.

C. Unity in Christ is possible (1:10), but only if everyone is willing to agree to follow the standard of God’s word.

D. We don’t often think like God does (1:26-28; 1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 16:15; Psalm 50:21).

E. Be careful whom you glorify (1:29-31). No human being, especially preachers, should be given credit for what God is responsible for.

F. The message is more important and powerful than the messenger (2:1-4). God used a weak, frightened man to reach the Corinthians. The power was in the message.

G. The word of God is verbally inspired (2:9-13). The words that inspired men spoke were words that came from the Holy Spirit who revealed the mind of God.

Eddie Parrish

Introduction to 1 Corinthians

There may not have been a more troubled church in the first century than the church in Corinth. In his first letter to them, Paul corrects their errors, answers their questions, and encourages them with statements of confidence. Before studying the letter, let us highlight some matters of background and introduction: the recipients, writer, date, and purpose of the letter.

I. Recipients

A. “The church of God which is at Corinth” (1:2)

B. The congregation began through the work of Paul, Silas, and Timothy on Paul’s second evangelistic journey (Acts 18).

1. Paul arrived in Corinth after leaving Athens (18:1).

2. He stayed with and worked alongside Aquila and Priscilla as tentmakers (18:2-3).

3. He spoke each Sabbath Day in the local synagogue, but was largely rejected (18:4-6).

4. After this, he localized his teaching in a house right next to the synagogue and converted many, including the ruler of the synagogue (18:7-8).

5. Though uneasy about staying, he remained a year and a half (18:9-11; 1 Cor. 2:3-5).

6. Typically for Paul, Jewish opposition caused trouble for him and he eventually moved on (18:12-18).

C. Corinth was a wicked city. Out of that wickedness and depravity would come those who made up the church there (1 Cor. 6:9-11; note: “such were some of you”).

II. Writer

A. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1)

B. Virtually no one, not even the most vehement critics of the Bible, question the authorship of the book.

III. Date

A. The letter was written from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8).

B. But since Paul’s first visit to Ephesus was short (Acts 18:19-21), it is unlikely that he wrote this letter then. However, he spent 3 years there on his third journey (Acts 19:1-41; 20:31). The letter was probably written during that time.

IV. Purpose

A. The church at Corinth was a troubled group. Some concerned members had written Paul a letter informing him of existing problems (1:11; 15:12). In addition, there had been additional correspondence from the church to Paul that included a number of questions that needed answers (7:1).

B. The book outlines itself rather easily as Paul moves from one problem to the next:

1. Division (1-4)

2. Immorality (5)

3. Lawsuits (6)

4. Marriage Questions (7)

5. Matters of Christian Liberty (8-10)

6. Disorder in Worship (11)

7. Spiritual Gifts (12-14)

8. The Resurrection (15)

9. Personal Matters (16)

V. Practical Lessons

A. Congregations will have problems as long as they consist of people.

B. The world sometimes influences the church more than the church influences the world.

C. Congregational leadership cannot ignore problems.

D. Though the ideal is to avoid problems, they can be beneficial (11:19).

Hebrews 13 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. Final Exhortations (13:1-17)

A. Show hospitality (13:1-3, 16)

B. Be morally pure (13:4)

C. Be content (13:5-6)

D. Submit to the elders (13:7, 17)

E. Do not be deceived by false doctrine (13:8-9)

F. The old law has fulfilled its purpose (13:10-11)

G. Identify with the suffering of Jesus (13:12-13)

H. Look toward heaven (13:14)

I. Praise God (13:15)

II. Concluding Remarks (13:18-25)

A. Prayers requested (13:18-19)

B. Prayer offered (13:20-21)

C. Final salutation (13:22-25)

QUESTIONS

  1. In showing hospitality to strangers, some had actually entertained _____________ (13:2)?
  2. They were to remember what group of people (13:3)?
  3. Why were they to honor God’s marriage arrangement (13:4)?
  4. What were they not to love (13:5)?
  5. Whose faith were they to imitate (13:7)?
  6. How does the writer describe Jesus (13:8)?
  7. As they considered the suffering of Jesus, how were they to respond to it (13:12-13)?
  8. What are we seeking (13:14)? In that seeking we are imitating some faithful saints of the past. Which ones (11:13-16)?
  9. What should we not neglect (13:16)?
  10. What do our leaders watch over (13:17)?
  11. Our conduct should allow our leaders to do their work with ________, not with ________ (13:17).
  12. What does the writer urge them to do (13:22)?

APPLICATION

I can think of no better way to end this study of Hebrews than the way the writer ended it in verses 20-21, with a prayer of praise and petition:

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 11 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. Faith Defined and Described (11:1-3)

A. The sacrifice of animals (1-4).

B. The sacrifice of Jesus (5-10).

II. Faith Demonstrated (11:4-40)

A. Abel, Enoch, and Noah (4-7)

B. Abraham and Sarah (8-19)

C. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (20-22)

D. Moses (23-29)

E. Jericho and beyond (30-40)

QUESTIONS

  1. How does the writer define faith (11:1)?
  2. How did Abel demonstrate his faith (11:4)?
  3. What must one do to please God (11:6)?
  4. How did Noah demonstrate his faith (11:7)?
  5. How did Abraham demonstrate his faith (11:8-9)?
  6. How did the patriarchs view their lives on earth (11:13)?
  7. What kind of country were the patriarchs seeking (11:16)?
  8. Why did Abraham not hesitate to offer Isaac as God instructed him (11:19)?
  9. How did Moses demonstrate his faith (11:23-29)?
  10. How many blessings of faith can you find in 11:33-34?
  11. How many forms of hardship and persecution can you find in 11:34-38?
  12. What has God provided for Christians that the Old Testament faithful did not experience (11:39-40)?

APPLICATION

When we read this chapter, especially verses 35-38, the writer gets personal. In common vernacular, he gets all up in our business. When I look up from reading the record of the hardships of those ancient saints, I must then look in my mirror and say to myself, “Now tell me again how tough your life is. Tell me again how bad you have it. Tell me again what it is that has your faith so shaky.” The things that try my faith today pale in comparison to the things that tried theirs.

Your second car only gets 20 miles per gallon? You don’t have enough money this month to buy that 7th pair of shoes? Everything in your overflowing closet is at least two years old? The electric bill for your 3 bedroom house is 30% more than what it was last year? Your co-worker rolled her eyes at you because you refused to join her for a drink? Your cousin “un-friended” and blocked you on Facebook because you defended the truth on some question of morality?

How terrible for us.

May God forgive us for complaining about petty things, and may he help us to develop the kind of trust and endurance that our ancient brethren had.

Hebrews 10 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. Two Sacrifices Contrasted (10:1-10)

A. The sacrifice of animals (1-4).

B. The sacrifice of Jesus (5-10).

II. Two Priesthoods Contrasted (10:11-18)

A. Levitical priests (11)

B. Jesus (12-18)

III. So What? (10:19-25)

A. Let us draw near (22)

B. Let us hold fast (23)

C. Let us consider each other (24-25)

IV. The Danger of Apostasy (10:26-31)

A. Expectation of judgment (26-27, 30-31)

B. Better covenant, more severe punishment (28-29)

V. Encouragement to be Faithful (10:32-39)

A. Remember prior faithfulness (32-34)

B. Hang in there (35-39)

QUESTIONS

  1. Could animal sacrifices on their own ever take away sin (10:1-4, 11)?
  2. The quotation of 10:5-7 is taken from what Old Testament text?
  3. According to 10:9, what did Jesus come to earth to do?
  4. By which covenant are we sanctified (10:10)?
  5. For how long is Jesus’ “one time” offering effective (10:14)?
  6. What gives us confidence to approach God (10:19)?
  7. How should we draw near to God (10:22)?
  8. How are we to stimulate each other to love and good works (10:24-25)?
  9. What does the continual willful sinner have to look forward to (10:26-27)?
  10. How did the writer describe “the former days” of the recipients (10:32-34)?
  11. What did the recipients need (10:36)?
  12. What does genuine faith result in (10:39)?

APPLICATION

A major transition takes place in 10:19 from the doctrinal section to the practical section of the book. The major focus from that point forward will be on how the superiority of Jesus and the New Testament should affect the way a Christian lives. This is a vital part of the book, the “so what” section. The recipients of this letter were stumbling under the weight of trials. This section will bring the message home and encourage them to hang on tightly to Jesus, for if they let go of him, there is nothing else to grasp.

Hebrews 9 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. The Tabernacle (9:1-5)

A. The holy place described (1-2)

B. The holy of holies described (3-5)

II. The Priestly Work (9:6-10)

A. Priests were regularly in the holy place (6)

B. Only the High Priest would enter the holy of holies (7)

C. The tabernacle is a symbol for the present (8-10)

III. The Superiority of Jesus (9:11-28)

A. A better tabernacle (11)

B. A better sacrifice (12-14, 23-28)

C. A better covenant (15-22)

QUESTIONS

1. What objects were kept in the holy place of the tabernacle (9:2)?

2. What objects were kept in the holy of holies (9:3-5)?

3. What did the High Priest do once a year (9:7)?

4. What could the sacrifices under the old covenant not do (9:9)?

5. Jesus is said to have entered what (9:11)?

6. How many times did Jesus enter the holy place with his own blood (9:12)?

7. What is able to cleanse our consciences from dead works (9:14)?

8. What must happen for a covenant to be valid (9:16)?

9. What kind of blood was used to sanctify the people, the law, and the tabernacle (9:19)?

10. It was necessary that “the heavenly things” be cleansed with what (9:23)?

11. Where has Christ entered (9:24)?

12. How often must Christ be offered to atone for sins (9:26-28)?

SUMMARY

Neil Lightfoot (Jesus Christ Today, p. 169) points out that within all of the details that the writer lays out in this chapter, there are four major facts emphasized with reference to the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice: (1) It has been offered in a greater and more perfect sanctuary (heaven). (2) It was a sacrifice of Christ’s own blood, not the blood of animals. (3) His sacrifice has made possible eternal redemption, not merely an annual reminder of sin. (4) It is, therefore, an offering that only needed to be made one time.

Hebrews 8 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. New Priest, New Law (8:1-7)

A. The new priest (1-3).

B. The new law (4-7).

II. Prophecy Fulfilled (8:8-13)

A. Jeremiah predicted the coming of the new covenant (8-12).

B. When the prophecy was made, the Mosaic covenant became “old” (13)

QUESTIONS

  1. What is the main point that the writer had been emphasizing (8:1)?
  2. Where is our High Priest (8:1)?
  3. What is the primary responsibility of a High Priest (8:3)?
  4. Could Jesus have been a priest on earth under the Levitical system (8:4; 7:14)?
  5. How does Christ’s ministry to compare to that of the Levitical priests (8:6)?
  6. How does the new covenant compare to the old (8:6)?
  7. Why was the new covenant given (8:7)?
  8. Hebrews 8:8-12 is a quotation of what Old Testament passage?
  9. What did the announcement of a coming “new” covenant make the Law of Moses (8:13)?
  10. What are “old” things destined to do (8:13)?

APPLICATION

It is not often that a writer of one of the New Testament documents identifies his main point for you. The Hebrews writer does that for us in 8:1. His main point is to emphasize that we Christians are not without representation before God. We have a High Priest and he is seated at the right hand of God in heaven. He offered himself as our sacrifice, serves in a better ministry than the Levitical priests, and has mediated a better covenant based on better promises (8:6-7). And all of that is in harmony with what God had said since the days of Jeremiah (8:8-12). We are blessed indeed to have God’s own Son as our representative in heaven!

Hebrews 7 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. The Superiority of Melchizadek (7:1-10)

A. He has a “perpetual” priesthood (1-3).

B. He has an impeccable character (4-10).

II. The Change in the Priesthood (7:11-22)

A. To change the priesthood is to change the law (11-14).

B. With the change in priesthood there comes a better hope (15-22).

III. The Improvement of the Priesthood (7:23-28)

A. The permanence of Christ’s priesthood (23-24)

B. The permanence of Christ’s sacrifice (25-28)

 QUESTIONS

  1. What two offices did Melchizadek hold (7:1)?
  2. What did Melchizadek’s name and offices mean (7:2)?
  3. When Melchizadek and Abraham met, what two things happened indicating that Melchizadek was superior to Abraham (7:4-7, note esp. verse 6)?
  4. What did the appointment of Jesus as High Priest imply about the Levitical priesthood (7:11)?
  5. The change in priesthood necessitated in change in what else (7:12)?
  6. From what Jewish tribe did Jesus come (7:13-14)?
  7. The priesthood of Jesus is based on the power of what (7:16)?
  8. What terms does the writer use to describe the Law of Moses in 7:18?
  9. With the bringing in of a better priesthood and better law came a better what (7:19)?
  10. Jesus is the personal guarantee of a better what (7:22)?
  11. What does Jesus live to do (7:25)?
  12. How is Jesus described in 7:26?
  13. How does the sacrifice of Jesus differ from those offered by the Levitical priests (7:27)?
  14. What is the difference between the Levitical priests and Jesus, according to 7:28?

APPLICATION

Just a casual reading of Hebrews 7 confirms what the writer said in 5:11 – there are things about Melchizadek that are hard to understand. While we may not be able to reach firm conclusions on every question that we may have about this ancient personality, the study itself is fascinating. It should compel us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). It’s a study that ought to lead us to examine the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).