2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, Psalms 27:1-6, Proverbs 20:20-21
Today is the 4th day of August welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I’m Brian it is great to be here with you today as it is every day, every day, day by day, step-by-step. And our steps will take us back into the book of second Chronicles today. We’ll actually conclude the book of second Chronicles today and move forward in the Old Testament tomorrow and then in the New Testament. We will begin a new letter, known as first Corinthians. And we’ll talk about that when we get there. But first, second Chronicles chapters 35 and 36 and we’re reading from the Christian Standard Bible this week.
Introduction to first Corinthians:
Okay. So, yesterday we concluded Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. So, also known as Romans. And that leads us to the doorstep here of first Corinthians which is another letter from Paul to another church, the church in Corinth. Corinth was a city, a large city in the Roman Empire, an influential city in the Roman empire, cosmopolitan, a hotspot, a destination place, a huge hub of trade and commerce. This is…this is the fourth largest city in the entire Roman empire. So, lots of people, lots of ideas. Lots of spirituality, spiritual ideas of idolatry. Basically, everything that you would find in a large secularized society is in Corinth. And many biblical scholars think first Corinthians gives us like, bar none, the best glimpse into what early Christians in a urban area were thinking about or questioning or trying to live into or trying to understand and…and fundamentally, they’re having spiritual experiences by the power of the Holy Spirit. Like, this is what’s drawing them together, right? So, like if Paul comes to Corinth, preaches the good news, people believe it, and then they start to worship together, but it’s just a dud, then they would just kind of fade away, right? Things were happening. The Holy Spirit was leading these people. It was drawing them together and pulling them together as a spiritual community, but they’re wondering like, “how does this translate to everyday life? Like how does these spiritual experiences…like how is this supposed to transform the way that life is lived?” And, so, some of these…some of these questions are asked of Paul, probably a letter sent to Paul. Like even in first Corinthians, Paul refers to a previous letter that he had written that to them. So, there’s correspondence going on among the Corinthians and Paul. So, he answers some of these questions, among other things. But fundamentally, you’ve got a bunch of people in an urban center following the leading of the Holy Spirit and they don’t have a Bible, right? Like they could have the Torah, but they didn’t have the New Testament as some sort of baseline for what’s going on. They don’t have that. And, so, it’s easy enough to come up with a number of ways of looking at things. We have a number of ways of looking at things even though we have the…the Bible, the New Testament now. And, so, Paul fundamentally is trying to look at everybody who’s looking at things, and in a number of ways, and bring it all back around to unity. And again, not uniformity, but unity. And that makes his words in first Corinthians as poignant now is as they would’ve been then. And, of course there are portions in first Corinthians that are very, very famous, like, “seeing through a glass darkly.” “When I was a child, I spoke like a child.” And then very, very famous is first Corinthians chapter 13, which is known as the love chapter, which is…which is beautiful, and we’ll see that when we get there. But let’s dive in and take a look into the early church, listen to what Paul’s…I mean we can kinda tell the questions that they’re answering by the way Paul is answering the questions. And some of these are questions we have. And, so, let’s enjoy as we enter this new territory. First Corinthians chapter 1 verse one through 17 today.
Okay. We just…we just talked about first Corinthians as we entered into it. And now that we have some verses under our belt here, we can kinda see this…this call to unity by the apostle Paul. And, so, it's…it’s safe to point out here that this…this idea that the early church was a completely harmonious thing, it was like perfect and then it just got worse and worse and worse until we are here today trying to wrestle through all the stuff, that’s not true. We’ve been wrestling through the stuff from the very, very beginning. So, like in this day and age there are some 40,000 Christian denominations of believers in the world that all have slightly different theological positions on different things that are very, very important to them. And we sort of see some of this evolving and being present in this letter to the Corinthian church. So, Paul says, “it’s been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by members of Chloe’s people that there is rivalry among you. And what I’m saying is this, one of you says, I belong to Paul or I belong to Apollos.” Now Apollos…Apollos was an early believer contemporary with the apostle Paul, whose reputation is that he was very, very educated in rhetoric and very, very good at communicating with words, a very good speaker. There are scholars that would argue that Apollos is the one who wrote the book of Hebrews. Of course, we’re not to the book of Hebrews yet and nobody knows that, but he just kind of like fits a certain profile. So, Apollos has been to the Corinthian community and spoken. And then there are others who say I belong to Cephas, which is the apostle Peter. So, it also seems that the apostle Peter has come through Corinth and visited with the church at Corinth. And, so, some of them are saying like, “well, I belong to him. He was a disciple of Jesus. He actually walked with Jesus. I’m going to follow what he has to say.” And then there are others who are like, “I belong to Christ”. I don’t belong any of these people. I belong to Christ. The Holy Spirit is leading me. This is…this is who me and mine, this is who we belong to.” And, so, we can see even in the early church, this is an attempt to get an identity by who our leaders are, who we are following. And then by very nature then saying, “we are separate from those who are following this other teaching.” And, so, there’s an “us and them” happening that Paul really, really doesn’t like because it creates, as he said, “rivalry among you, divisions among you.” So, here in one of the earliest churches, like the earliest churches following Jesus that have been established this is going on. “I belong to Paul. “Well I am of the Apollos camp. I follow Peter. I follow Christ alone.” And Paul’s response to that is, “is Christ divided then? Is that what’s going on here? Is Christ divided? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were you baptized in my name?” And then he kinda goes on to try to think it through everyone’s he’s baptized so that there’s a very select few people that could ever claim to be baptized in Paul’s name. We’ll get into this further as we get further into this letter and as we continue to move through the letters that are found in the New Testament and what we can learn about our brothers and sisters who were right at the beginning first, what they were thinking about and what they were going too because it helps us to realize, like most of the stuff that’s going on that’s like frustrating or that we can’t quite figure out, this has always been going on. It’s not some kind of new phenomenon in our lifetime. And we’ll see Paul working toward unity even while acknowledging that people have different viewpoints on different things. What he will do though is invite us, invite his readers, which was them and now is us basically to think…to think…to raise the bar, to think hire, to understand that there’s a bigger thing going on than us just trying to find our camp. There’s a bigger thing going on that God is doing through Jesus and that bigger thing unites us.
Father, as we go through this letter and all of the different letters and all the different things that we have to talk about and all of the different things that Your word will illuminate inside of us, that will become a mirror into our own convictions and are our own postures, we invite You. We see that there was…that there was disunity or disharmony in the earlier church and that those things needed to be wrestled with and wrestled through and realize that is still today the same and we realize that our hearts, like our clothes may change and our technology may change, but our hearts, what we’re looking for, what we’re seeking, these things remain the same. And we are seeking You and we are asking the Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth as we continue our journey through the Scriptures. Come Holy Spirit into all of this we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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