Paul planted a church in the city of Corinth while on his second missionary journey. The eighteenth chapter of Acts records this story.
In Corinth Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, tentmakers like Paul. As bivocational missionaries, they worked their trade during the week, but on the weekends, he “reasoned in the synagogue” and led many to saving faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 18:1-4). When the orthodox Jews opposed Paul, he began to share his faith with the Gentile population and “many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8, CSB).
Paul was an itinerant missionary, moving from place to place often. Apparently, his ministry was so fruitful in Corinth that God directed him to stay “there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:11, CSB). After leaving Corinth, Paul made a short stop at Ephesus and then returned to his home base at Antioch.
On Paul’s third missionary journey he returned to Ephesus. While at Ephesus, Paul wrote what we call First Corinthians.
In the three or four years since Paul had left Corinth, the church had developed several bad habits. Actually, it was a complete mess! Paul wrote to rebuke the church and correct misbehavior.
In the first place, the church was fractured and divided. They were “quarreling” with some saying, “ ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ’ ” (1 Corinthians 1:11-12, ESV). The church doesn’t need groupies... it needs disciples!
The second problem that Paul addressed was sexual sin. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1, ESV). A man was sleeping with his stepmother! Gross! Paul wrote, “Flee from sexual immorality!” (I Corinthians 6:18).
Paul also rebuked the Corinthians concerning their public gatherings. They had allowed their observance of the Lord’s supper to become an exclusive drunken, glutenous feast. So sad! And some at Corinth had so perverted the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Paul spent three chapters challenging their chaotic behavior and reminding them that the unified body of Christ must live and serve with love (I Corinthians 12-14).
Paul concludes his letter by reminding them to keep the main thing the main thing! Paul declared that they must focus on the resurrected Lord Jesus! “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, ESV).
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, CSB).
No church is perfect. We’ve all got our problems. So, we must always measure ourselves and our activities against the plumb-line of God’s Word! The Word will rebuke and train and correct!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor