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

Romans 6

Introduction: Paul concluded chapter five with a strong statement about the power of God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). If that is true, some might try to make the case that we should actually sin more in order to obtain more grace. But Paul will counter that idea in chapter six and explain the relationship that should exist between a Christian and sin.

I. Dead to Sin (6:1-14)

A. Paul asks a question that may have been on the minds of some, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer is an emphatic negative. Those who have died to sin cannot continue to live in it (1-2).

B. Next he explains that when one is baptized, there is a death, a burial, and a resurrection that take place (3-4).

1. We die to the habitual practice of sin when we make up our minds that we are going to believe in, trust, and follow Jesus. We call that “repentance.” While we will still commit momentary, isolated sins, we will no longer live in sin. It will not dominate our lives like it once did (1 John 3:4-10).

2. Having died to the practice of sin, we are buried in water, and raised from the water into a new life (4). This marks the moment that our lives and our status before God change.

3. An important application point as it relates to baptism and salvation: just as Jesus was not raised to new life until he was first buried, it is the same with one who is baptized. The new life begins after the burial, not before.

C. Explaining further, Paul says that our “old man (self)” was, in a sense, crucified so that our sins would no longer enslave us (6-7; cf. Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:20-24).

D. Having been released from the enslaving power of sin, we can now live eternally with him (8-10). Therefore, the Christian should consider himself dead to the practice of sin, but very much alive in relation to God (11).

E. The practical application of the “dead to sin, alive to God” principle is that we are not to allow sin to rule us. We are to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness (12-14).

F. The bottom line is that when one decides to become a Christian, he is making a commitment to live differently. One cannot be joined to Christ in baptism and come up from the water content to live as he did before.

1. So if one is living in adultery, he cannot become a Christian and continue to live in adultery (Col. 3:5-7).

2. If one is a thief, he cannot become a Christian and continue to steal (Eph. 4:28).

3. The Corinthians are a great example of this: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

II. Slaves to Righteousness (6:15-23)

A. Just in case someone might try to contradict Paul’s teaching a different way, the apostle closes that door, too. The possible objection: “If we live under the grace of God, then it shouldn’t matter if we sin. Grace gives us license to live however we want, right?” Wrong (15).

B. Paul explains again, but in different words, what he explained earlier. Everyone serves either sin or righteousness (16). The Christians in Rome had been servants of sin, but when they obeyed the gospel they became servants of righteousness (17-18).

1. The “form” of doctrine refers to what Paul described in 6:3-4. “Form” means pattern. There was a pattern that they imitated when they became Christians.

2. Just as Jesus died FOR sin, was buried in the earth, and raised from that grave, we die TO sin, are buried in water, and raised again. This is how one “obeys the gospel” (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17).

C. Paul admits to using a rudimentary comparison, but it serves his purpose to communicate the necessity of not being slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (19).

D. When they were living as slaves to sin, they were producing no fruit worthy of praise. Instead, they were producing things that bring shame and death (20-21). But now as slaves of God, they produce fruit that leads to holiness and eternal life (22).

E. Living in sin brings death. But God offers eternal life as a gift through Jesus Christ (23).

Conclusion: Grace is a blessing too valuable to adequately describe. It is impossible to out-sin the power of God’s grace (Rom. 5:20). But that does not mean that we have the right to try (Rom. 6:1-2). Our attitude toward sin should be, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4:14-15).

Romans 5

Introduction: In the previous chapter, Paul used Abraham as an illustration of how one can be justified by faith apart from meritorious works in general and the Law of Moses in particular. In this chapter, he will first mention some of the results and blessings of justification, then he will explain that what humanity lost through Adam it can regain through Jesus.

I. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11)

A. The chapter begins with “therefore,” which is a clear indication that what he is about to write relates directly to what he previously wrote.

B. From 3:21 – 4:25, Paul explained and illustrated what it means to be justified, not by works of merit, but by faith in Jesus. To paraphrase verse one, “Since, then, we have been justified by faith, here are some of the results and blessings of that justification.”

1. We have peace with God (1). Sin creates hostility with and separation from God (James 4:4; Isa. 59:1-2). But through faith in Jesus, fellowship is restored and God turns his back on our sins (Psa. 51:9).

2. We have access into God’s grace (2). Grace is not unconditionally given. We access all of the benefits of his grace when we stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting him (Eph. 2:4-9).

3. We have reason to rejoice in hope and in our sufferings (2-5). It is easy to rejoice in good times, but not so easy to rejoice in bad times. But when we consider the benefits of difficulties, we can improve our outlook (James 1:2-4).

4. We have the indwelling of God’s Spirit (5). The Spirit of God is given when one becomes a child of God (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Gal. 4:6). He serves as a “seal” and an “earnest” of future reward (Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22), and helps us in our growth and sanctification (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 8:13).

5. We have protection from the wrath of God (9-10). One of the intriguing lessons to consider from this text is that when Jesus saves us, he is saving us from God (Heb. 10:31; 12:29).

6. We have been reconciled (11). Sin caused separation. Through the death of Jesus we can be brought back into fellowship with God (Col. 1:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).

C. The above blessings were made possible because Jesus died for weak, ungodly, sinful enemies (6-8). It is a love that defies description and understanding (1 John 4:9-10)!

II. What We Lost in Adam, We Gain in Christ (5:12-21)

A. This section contains some of the more difficult statements in Romans. But its primary message is clear: while Adam’s disobedience opened the door for sin to be committed, Jesus’ obedience opened the door for salvation to be received.

B. First, let’s consider what Paul writes about Adam and his sin:

1. Sin entered the world through him (12).

2. Death (physical and spiritual) entered the world because of his sin (12).

3. Sin existed prior to the Law of Moses, and death reigned over all who sinned, even though their sins may not have been exactly like Adam’s sin (13-14).

4. Adam is a “type” of Christ (14). Wayne Jackson, in his helpful book, Biblical Figures of Speech, defines a “type” this way, “A type is a real, exalted happening in history that was divinely ordained by the omniscient God to be a prophetic picture of the good things he purposed to bring to fruition through Christ Jesus” (p. 126).

C. Second, consider what Paul writes about Jesus and his obedience. Regarding Adam and Jesus, the comparison is more in how they are different than in how they are alike (15-19).

1. Through Adam, many died; through Jesus, grace abounded (15).

2. Through Adam came condemnation; through Jesus, justification (16).

3. Through Adam, death reigned; through Jesus, life reigns (17).

4. Through Adam came sin and condemnation; through Jesus, justification and righteousness (18-19).

D. The Law of Moses was given “to increase the trespass” – that is, to shine a bright light on the sinfulness of man (20; cf. 7:7, 13). This was to increase man’s awareness of how much he needs God’s grace in Jesus (21).

Conclusion: A great summary statement for this section is the last part of Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

Romans 3:21 – 4:25

Introduction: Having established that everyone – Jew and Gentile – stands in need of salvation due to personal sin, Paul now turns his attention to explaining the basis of the salvation offered in Christ. We are not justified by merit. God justifies us because we trust him to save us.

I. The Basis of Justification is Grace, Appropriated by Faith (3:21-31)

A. The “righteousness of God” (i.e., the justification that comes from God) is possible apart from works of law in general, and the works of the Law of Moses in particular (3:21).

B. The basis of justification is the same for all, the grace of God made possible by Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins (3:22-25a).

C. God’s amazing plan for the redemption of man allows God to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (3:25b-26).

D. Because we are declared righteous apart from meritorious works, we have no basis to boast (3:27-28).

E. God has decreed that both Jew and Gentile can be saved in the same way–on the basis of trusting, not earning (3:29-30). But this principle does no damage to the law. Rather, it harmonizes with it (3:31).

II. Abraham: and Example of Justification by Grace Through Faith (4:1-25)

A. Paul will explain in this chapter that the greatest hero of the Jews, Abraham, found justification through his trust in God, not any meritorious system of law.

B. Had Abraham been justified by merit, he would have plenty of reasons to boast. But the Scriptures are clear that what was put on his account as “righteousness” was his faith (Gen. 15:6), not meritorious works (4:1-8).

1. Paul explains the difference between grace and merit. When one works for pay, his wages are not counted as a gift (4:4).

2. But the one who doesn’t attempt to earn justification, but trusts in the one who can justify the ungodly, “his faith is counted as righteousness” (4:5-6).

C. Pious Jews placed inordinate value on circumcision, to the point that it was viewed meritoriously–that is, they believed that circumcision, in and of itself, obtained God’s approval (cf. Acts 15:1-5; Gal. 2:1-21; 5:6).

D. In 4:9-12, Paul reminds the Jewish Christians in Rome that Abraham was justified by faith long before he was ever circumcised.

1. The blessing of justification is not reserved for the circumcised only, and Abraham’s justification prior to circumcision proves that (4:9-10).

2. The fact that Abraham was counted as righteous because of his faith, and not because of his circumcision, is proof that he is the father of all who trust God for salvation, Jew or Gentile (4:11-12).

E. The promises that God made to Abraham regarding the blessings that would come through his descendants were made long before the Law of Moses ever came to be (4:13-15).

F. If the blessings promised through Abraham required perfect law-keeping, no one would enjoy them. That’s why those blessings are obtained through trusting God for them (4:16-17).

G. Abraham’s strong faith (4:18-21) was placed on his spiritual account as righteousness, not just for his sake alone, but for ours, too. If we follow in his steps, we will be justified in the same way he was (4:22-25).

III. Lessons

A. God blesses us, not because of who we are, but because of who he is (4:1-4; 1 John 4:19). God did not choose to bless Abraham because he owed Abraham.

B. There are four important terms used in this section that help us to understand our salvation:

1. Justification (3:24, 26, 28, 30) – a judicial term that denotes vindication, or receiving a favorable verdict. When we are justified, God drops the charges.

2. Redemption (3:24) – a financial term that denotes a payment of ransom. When we are redeemed, God pays for our release from captivity.

3. Propitiation (3:25) – a sacrificial term denoting the appeasement of righteous anger. Through the death of Jesus, the righteous demands of God’s nature are satisfied.

4. Accounting (4:11, 23-24) – another financial term that refers to a mathematical calculation that would be placed in a ledger. When we trust God for salvation, he places “righteousness” on our spiritual ledger.

Conclusion: Few Bible doctrines offer as much hope and peace as the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. We would all be hopelessly doomed to eternal torment if our salvation were contingent on our personal perfection.