SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
1 Corinthians 5:1 through 11:34
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Chapter 5 begins the second major division of the epistle. In these chapters, Paul was writing to this group of believers to address a variety of issues that had arisen and were severely affecting the unity of the church. Basically, the Christian faith was under attack in Corinth.
Although the Corinthian converts had broken from idolatry and stepped out of the corruption of their society to form a local church, it was imperative for them to realize that the Gospel does not tolerate compromise. There must be a clean break with the old sinful lifestyle, and it was at this point the Corinthian believers had faltered.
In addition, the Corinthians needed to understand the supreme importance of love in order to build and preserve unity among their members. Followers of Christ cannot be in unity if they are in conflict with one another, and this was a primary issue in the church at Corinth.
Non-believers watched the Early Church, much as they do today, to see if Christians lived the message they preached. Paul desired for the Corinthian church to grow spiritually and mature into the Spirit-led believers he knew they could be. How could a church reach out to those in need of the Gospel when they are bickering from within? So many issues were unresolved in Corinth that the Holy Spirit was hindered. When hearts of believers are in unity with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit is able to move on their behalf, convicting sinners, healing the sick in body and spirit, and moving believers to a closer walk with God.
As in any church, those at Corinth were in different stages of growth. Many were truly “babes in Christ.” Others were slow to abandon their pagan ways. Because of this, they did not know the answers to questions that arose and they needed guidance. Paul offered that guidance — a sort of “how to” manual; gentle when appropriate, but in many cases up front and to the point. Some of the key issues needing to be addressed included: fornication, marriage, discipline within the church, handling differences with fellow believers, caring for those who were weaker in the faith, eating food that had been offered to idols, and proper conduct at the Lord’s Supper.
The Gospel message is plain and simple. Paul encouraged the church to pursue a bond of unity with this being the focus.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- Leaven was symbolic of sin, and Paul wrote that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Why should a church be diligent in dealing with sin? (1 Corinthians 5:6-7) How can we keep the sinful practices of our culture from creeping into our lives and our church?
If even a small amount of sin is allowed in the church, it will cause division and confusion. Just as a little yeast eventually causes the entire mass of dough to rise, a small amount of sin can cause an entire church to be jeopardized spiritually. In chapter 5, Paul instructed the church in Corinth to get rid of all the “leaven.” Applying this to our lives and to our church today, we see that we cannot tolerate sin, even in small doses.
- What two points did Paul make regarding settling disputes among Christians? (1 Corinthians 6)
Paul’s two points were:
• Do not take differences between brothers in Christ to an unbeliever for settlement.
• Relinquish your personal rights in order to avoid contention.
Matthew 18:15 indicates that regardless of whether the problem was an unintentional error or something done flagrantly, the first step is to go to the brother or sister and discuss it in private. Discuss with your class why and how such a practice will build unity.
- What Bible doctrine does chapter 7 teach?
Marriage is for life. In verses 10-11, Paul clearly states that if a woman departs from her husband, “let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.” Later, verses 39-40 explain that the marriage vows endure until death, and only then can one remarry. Discuss how ignoring this one Bible doctrine can diminish the unity of a family as well as the unity of a church body.
- In what way should we apply Paul’s advice concerning stronger and weaker brothers to our lives? (1 Corinthians 8:12-13)
1 Corinthians 8:12 tells us that if we sin against a weaker brother, wounding his conscience, we are sinning against Christ. Freedom does not bring license to disregard others; in all things we are to act in love, preferring our brother. Ask your class for examples of situations when someone would refrain from doing something out of concern that it might offend a brother or sister.
- To what two athletic events did Paul compare the Christian walk? (1 Corinthians 9:24-26) What disciplines does an athlete have that can be applied to our Christian walk?
A form of boxing and running a foot race. Have your students share their thoughts about the discipline needed for a Christian life. How do we “train” as Christians? Possible answers include: prayer, Bible study, and attending church.
- Name the transgressions of the Children of Israel that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10. Why is it important to remember lessons from the past?
Some of the transgressions of the Children of Israel were idolatry (verse 7), fornication (verse 8), tempting Christ (verse 9), and murmuring (verse 10). Paul said these are listed as examples. Discuss why it is important to remember lessons from the past, bringing out that those who fail to understand, learn from, and remember the lessons of the past might well repeat the same actions. To illustrate the importance of remembering, ask students to share personal lessons they have learned that they hope their children will not have to learn from personal experience.
- What are some practical steps that we can take to maintain unity with our fellow believers?
Steps brought out may include: treat each other with love and consideration; move quickly to resolve any differences between brothers; refrain from negative speaking or complaining about others; do nothing to cause others to falter in their Christian walks.
Paul had a desire for the church at Corinth to have unity with the Spirit of God. We should have that same desire for our church today, and be taking steps to ensure that we are building the unity of the Body of Christ, not tearing it down.