Sunday, January 27, 2013
At the front of the letter, Paul and Sosthenes state that this letter is written:
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours 1 Corinthians 1:2
So this letter wasn’t written to explain to the Corinthian church how to receive the free gift of Jesus and become a believer…because Paul did that previously when he established the church there. While later staying in Ephesus, Paul received a letter from the Corinthian church; they had lots of questions about living the Christian life, especially living it in Corinth. Corinth was a mega port city in the ancient world, a true melting pot of multiple cultures…and it had a reputation for lust and sin that would make Las Vegas blush. The believers in Corinth wrote Paul, wanting to know not only how to live for Christ among all their societal mess, but also was it worth the trouble to do so?
So Paul writes back and reaches out with an analogy they would understand. From the Holmen Commentary:
The Corinthians loved athletics. They sponsored the biannual Isthmian Games, which were second in importance only to the Olympic Games. They held these games only ten miles from Corinth, so most people in Corinth would have been familiar with the goals and practices of the games…The games included six events: wrestling, jumping, javelin, discus throwing, racing, and boxing. Competitors in the Olympics Games were required to train for at least ten months before the games in order to qualify for participation. It is possible that a similar requirement existed for the Isthmian Games, which may explain Paul’s references to strict training and disqualification. Winners received crowns either of pine or of celery, both perishable materials.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24
His point is not that we should be competing against one another, rather he’s pointing out that it is how we run that matters.
To be continued…