Instructions for Church Unity
Division. Quarrels. Ungodly culture infiltrating the church. Confusion over Christians’ roles in society. Misunderstanding of core Christian doctrines.
While these were all issues embedded in the Corinthian church that Paul sought to address in his lengthy letter to this young church, they should sound familiar as they are widely prevalent in the church of America today. Packed full of practical instruction, strong words of exhortation and correction, and solid doctrine, 1 Corinthians is a timely message for us as we seek wisdom on how to become a more unified, healthy, and spiritually mature body.
Located in southern Greece, Corinth was strategically situated on an important geographical isthmus and was a bustling city of commerce due to its location. During the first century, historians figure that nearly 700,000 people lived in this thriving Roman city. Corinth was known for many things: wealth, philosophy, pleasure, and entertainment. With a maritime based economy and merchants, sailors, and visitors from all over the known world, the city of Corinth contained all people from all walks of life, social and economic backgrounds, and religious practices.
Like all Roman cities, Corinth supported the worship of all the gods. However, Corinth was also home to a large temple devoted to the worship of Aphrodite—the goddess of love. Therefore, this city became world famous for its loose morals, sinful living, and sensuous culture. Combining this with wealth, prosperity, prestige, and world importance due to location made Corinth the epitome of a worldly, heathen city. And this is where Paul went and spent eighteen months planting a church.
The gospel took hold in Corinth and a church quickly grew during Paul’s time in the city. However, when Paul left to continue his missionary work, the young believers in Corinth struggled with how to live the Christian life in the midst of a wicked culture. They began allowing aspects of Corinth’s culture to infiltrate the church and started fighting among themselves.
So Paul writes them the letter we now know as 1 Corinthians. It is a strong letter filled with important clarifications on Christian living, exhortations for how a mature church body should act and look like, and a call to unity and humility within the church. Paul packed his letter with instructions on a wide range of topics that are just as important for us today as they were for the Corinthians two millennia ago. Issues within the local church are not new. The Corinthians struggled with many things, and through the hand of Paul, God gave us this book to instruct us in how a healthy, mature, and strong local church should look.
Therefore, let’s dive into this weighty book and be prepared to study some tough topics, remembering that this divinely inspired letter is, in short, a call to unity and maturity.
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
~1 Corinthians 1:10