The theme of 1 Corinthians then is solving problems in the church.
The whole book is a corrective, a polemic against a whole host of problems. Disunity, so there's divisions in the church. Abuse of spiritual gifts in the church. Divorce and remarriage in the church.
Problems of immorality, doctrinal problems concerning the resurrection. The apostle Paul lived his life surrendered to God's will. Where God led, he followed. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzinger, Skip shares how Paul came to minister to the Corinthians, inspiring you to continually follow God's calling for your life. But first, we appreciate hearing from listeners like you, and here's a letter a listener sent in. Skip's teachings have had a major impact on me personally and my family as well. We were catching up on Skip's study through Samuel, and our 10-year-old son came in and listened with us because he couldn't sleep. We had just left a church convention the previous day where our son had said something was wrong, that it should have been more joyous. He laid down on the floor next to our bed listening to Skip's teaching, and at the end of the service, Skip made a call to accept Jesus by raising your hand.
Our son raised his hand, then stood up and prayed with Skip. Stories like this one only happen because generous listeners like you give, and your support today will help take these teachings even further and connect more people with God's truth. So please visit connectwithskip.com slash donate to give today. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate, or call 800-922-1888. Again, that's 800-922-1888.
Thank you. Now, we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 as we dive into our study with Skip Heitzig. So we have before us the book of 1st Californians. That's what some of us used to call it because there are certain similarities between Corinth and California. And I can speak this as not a Corinthian native, but somebody from the West Coast. Corinth and California have much in common. They were both, I would say, financial centers in our country based on different economies, but nonetheless economic centers.
Both were or are trendy places. A lot of things in fashion, etc., happened in Corinth, happened on the West Coast. And so there are certain similarities between Corinth and California. That's why I call it 1st Californians. But also the similarity is in a moral laxity.
You had, and I think still have had, a lot of experimentation when it comes to morality, sexuality in the United States that occurred, started on the West Coast, and unfortunately moves to other places. And that is similar to the city of Corinth. Corinth, ancient Corinth, was a colony of Rome. It is in the Roman Empire. Most everything was colonized by Rome in that part of the world, but this was a Roman colony.
And it was strategically situated on a little neck of land that was only three and a half miles wide. The city was at the very beginning of a large area of land that we would look at as southern Greece. If you were to look at a map and you would see where Athens is and how Greece is laid out, the southern part of Greece was almost on an island to its own. It wasn't an island. I say it was almost an island, and that is because if it's almost an island but not an island, it's a peninsula. And so that whole southern region, that large mass of land, southern Greece, was connected to the main body of Greece by that narrow piece of land called an isthmus.
As I said, it was only three and a half miles wide. That isthmus upon which Corinth was situated was perfect for traffic. Traffic going east and west from Athens into southern Greece would stop at Corinth. And going slightly from north to south, connecting two of the seas together, you had on one side the Aegean Sea, on the other side you had the Adriatic Sea. And the only thing that separated those two bodies of water was that little neck of land upon which Corinth was situated. So all of the foot traffic would go on the main roads and all of the ocean faring traffic would go and stop at those little ports on each side of that neck of land, again called an isthmus. It's a hard word to say.
I never liked it when I had it in geography class, but it's a word in our language nonetheless. Now, that little isthmus posed a problem and a solution for ships that were sailing from one sea to the other sea. So if you're on the Adriatic Sea and you want to get to the Aegean Sea, you'd stop in a port and then you have a landmass that's three and a half miles across. So that was the problem. The solution was unload your boat of all the cargo, transported by land over that little neck of land to the other port and load the cargo back onto another ship.
That's number one. Number two, if your boat isn't so large, what they often would do is actually lift the ship out from the ocean and put it on wheels, on rollers, and roll it over land three and a half miles and put it in the other body of water. You say, why didn't they just sail around? Well, you could. And if you did, it would be a 200-mile trip to sail around. Three and a half miles, 200 miles.
You pick. And not only that, not only was it just a longer trip, but it was a more dangerous trip. That southern portion of that body, southern Greece, which is called the Peloponnesus or the Peloponnesian Peninsula, the very bottom part of that was called Malaya, the Cape of Malaya. And the sailors used to have an interesting saying back in those days. They would say, whoever would sail around the Cape of Malaya, let him first make out his will. Because it was dangerous.
The kind of headwinds and storms that would come and smash you into the rocks were foreboding. So sailors opted for the first two solutions, unload and reload or take the boat across the Isthmus. This problem solution was attempted to be breached by Cesar Nero. Cesar Nero thought, you know, the only thing we have to do is just sort of cut a channel across that land, connecting the two bodies of water. And so he actually tried to do that. Cesar Nero attempted to cut a ditch from one port to the other port. He was unsuccessful. Finally, they were successful, but listen, not until 1893. In 1893, which is pretty recent times, that channel was cut. And if you travel from Athens to Corinth today, you will go right over what is called the Corinthian Canal or the Ithmian Canal.
You will go right over that little neck of land. So they finally were successful and the ships can go in and out. Corinth was not only on the crossroads of the seas and of the roads, not only was it famous for its fashion and famous for a number of those other things, including commerce, it was an entertainment capital. There were sporting events that were similar to another sporting event in that same country called the Olympics. And the Olympics were the most famous. The second most popular set of events took place in Corinth and they were called the Ithmian Games.
I wish they'd just come up with a different name for that, but the Ithmian Games were played in and around Corinth and they attracted lots of attention, lots of competition, and they were second in popularity only to the Olympics. When I say entertaining, though, there was a seedy side of the entertainment value of Corinth. Some of you know about Corinth, some of you New Testament people, you New Testament readers, you know that Corinth had a bad reputation. It had a bad reputation for a good reason. There are a lot of shenanigans happened in Corinth morally.
They were very loose morally. Just to the south of Corinth, and you can see it today, there is a large hill that rises up 1,900 feet called the Acro-Corinth or the Acropolis of Corinth, and there was a temple in antiquity, the Temple to Aphrodite, and up on top of that hill there lived 1,000 priestesses, I put in quotes, prostitutes really, for the Temple of Aphrodite. They would then go into the city at night and ply their trade on the incoming sailors or soldiers or wayfarers that were in that city, and they would collect the money and they would support themselves, support the Temple of Aphrodite. So it had a very seedy side filled with prostitution, filled with loose morality.
It was known all over the world. There was a saying in those days, it went like this, not everyone can afford a trip to Corinth. And what they meant by that is the gaming and the prostitution.
It's sort of like Las Vegas or San Francisco. It just had its own reputation. In fact, there was even a saying in those days, what happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth. No, I just made that up.
I just wanted to see if you were following along, and you were. They actually didn't say that. Just to let you know or to further underline this seedy underbelly of its morality, whenever in the Greek plays somebody played the role of a resident of Corinth, played a Corinthian in one of the Greek plays, they always cast that person as a drunk. And so they even had a saying back on the stage and in that part of the Mediterranean, Aegean Sea, Adriatic, that whole area, Corinthia zesti. That's a Greek word that means to play the Corinthian or to act the Corinthian.
It meant you were debauched, you had no morals, you were loose, you were a partier, a drunkard. So to play the Corinthian was never seen as a compliment. Well into this arena, Paul the Apostle went to start a church.
So how did that happen? Well let me take you back in the book of Acts. You remember that Paul tried to go on a second missionary journey to a few different places.
Holy Spirit kept shutting the doors. Finally he gets a vision at night, a man from Macedonia saying, come over to Macedonia and help us. So Paul the next day turns to his buddies and said, hey, I've got a vision of a man from Macedonia.
He said, come over and help us. I don't know, what do you think? I think it's the Lord telling us to go to Macedonia. Should we go?
Yeah. So they go. And they go to Philippi. And they go from Philippi to Thessalonica to Berea. Finally they go to Athens, Greece. Athens is where the philosophers of the Areopagus were.
Paul stood up there, Acts 17. After he leaves Athens, he then goes to Corinth. And he will spend in this city three and, no, that's Ephesus, three and a half years, a year and a half.
So he's going to spend about 18 months, a year and a half, he will spend in Corinth starting the church, teaching the people, doing evangelism, training them, et cetera. When he gets to Corinth, he meets a couple, a couple, a Jewish couple in the synagogue. They had been in Rome recently. They got kicked out of Rome, so they moved to Corinth.
It was a husband and wife team named Aquila and Priscilla. They were tent makers. Paul being a tent maker would have sat next to them in the synagogue.
They met, struck up a conversation. He probably led them to Christ, by the way. The reason that Aquila and Priscilla had left Rome is because a Claudius Caesar had kicked all of the Jews out of Rome during that period of history.
And it's interesting if you do a little digging as to why he did that. It said that he did it over a man by the name of Crestus, C-H-R-E-S-T-U-S, we would spell it in English, Crestus. And many scholars believe it's a reference to Jesus Christ, and it's a reference to Jews coming to know Christ and the hostile response of the Jewish community in Rome that caused a stir. That stir came into the purview of Claudius Caesar, so he just put a quash on Judaism, and the product of that was Aquila and Priscilla meeting Paul in Corinth. So Paul goes to the synagogue. That was his style.
You go to the synagogue of Corinth. He would share the gospel. Not everybody liked what Paul had to say. Many hated what he had to say, and he caused trouble wherever he went.
He didn't care. He shared the gospel. He gets kicked out of the synagogue, and he has to move his operations to some place. So he goes to the house right next door to the synagogue, a house of a guy by the name of Justice, or as some texts say, tedious justice. He had a house next door to the synagogue. The ruler of the Jewish synagogue is a guy by the name of Crispus.
If I ever get started, we'll actually read his name in chapter 1. Crispus was the ruler, the archaesunagogos, he was called, the head of the synagogue. Crispus comes to faith in Christ, and Paul will baptize him. So as I mentioned, he's there for a year and a half. Paul's there 18 months.
Crispus gets saved. They have church in the house next door to the synagogue. The Jewish people are stirring up the people against Paul. Eventually, a whole new governor comes to power in that region, a guy by the name of Gallio. When Gallio is governor, the next ruler of the synagogue, along with the Jews, bring Paul to court in front of Gallio, and they accuse him of a whole bunch of things.
I love Gallio. I would vote for him. He believed in the whole separation, like we're not going to meddle with religious affairs. That's not our purview. He said, you guys are arguing about names and about customs and traditions and matters pertaining to your law. That's not why we're here. That's not why this court exists. I'm not going to deal with you.
Get out of here. So they take the new head of the synagogue. It was Crispus, remember, but he's saved now. The new head of the synagogue, the new arche synagogos, is a guy by the name of Sosthenes. Again, if we ever get started and just read a couple of verses, his name will be mentioned. So they take Sosthenes, and they beat him. But eventually, what seemed to happen just by reading 1 Corinthians is that second guy also came to faith in Christ, Sosthenes.
So it was really quite a ministry here. Okay, so we are reading which letter of Paul to the Corinthians? First, okay, because it says 1 Corinthians.
That was good. You guys are so advanced. But I've got to tell you something. It's really not 1 Corinthians. It's probably 2 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians is probably better attested to as 3 Corinthians. You say, well, Skip, you're confusing me now. Well, I actually want to clarify. So I want you to turn in your Bibles to chapter 6. In chapter 5, verse 9, I wrote to you.
Notice that. I wrote to you. This is 1 Corinthians. But in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, he says, I wrote to you.
So we should ask, what did you write to them? I wrote to you in my epistle, my letter before 1 Corinthians, not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet, I certainly did not mean the sexually immoral people of this world or with the covetous nor extortioners or idolaters.
Since then, you would need to go out of the world. Now I've written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is sexually immoral or covetous or an idolater or reviler or drunker or extortioner, not even to eat with such a person. So evidently, after Paul leaves Corinth, after a year and a half, he moves to Ephesus, spends three years there founding a church there. In Ephesus, he writes a letter. And the letter is because of this rampant immorality. What was happening in the city was now starting to happen in the church. So Paul wrote a very stern letter that we do not have.
We don't have it. We have 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. That former letter that he's writing about, we don't have.
So he wrote him a letter. But then after some time, after he wrote to correct that, somebody writes him from Corinth by the name of Chloe. And Chloe says, hey, Paul, just word up, heads up. There's lots of division going on in Corinth.
People are breaking up into little groups. Some are saying I'm a Paul. Some are saying I'm a Paul. There's these divisions.
You need to know about that. The church is breaking up. And not only that, but the Corinthian church itself wrote Paul a letter with a series of questions. What about marriage? What about divorce?
How do we deal with immorality, etc.? So beginning in chapter 7, he says, now concerning the things you wrote me about. So between the letter they wrote to him asking him a series of questions and the divisions Chloe wrote to him about, he writes 1 Corinthians.
Make sense? So the theme of 1 Corinthians then is solving problems in the church. The whole book is a corrective, a polemic against a whole host of problems. Disunity, so there's divisions in the church. Abuse of spiritual gifts in the church. Divorce and remarriage in the church.
Problems of immorality. Doctrinal problems concerning the resurrection. It's a series of problems one after the other that Paul addresses in this book.
Now having said that, we're ready to start. Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, now watch this, and Sosthenes, our brother. Now that you know about Sosthenes, and he was so opposed along with the other Jews to Paul's ministry, evidently, and there's no indication necessarily that it's the same Sosthenes, it could be a different one, but probably not.
We have no reason to say it was, so I'm just going to guess it's the same dude that was in Corinth, has come to Christ, and is now, not in Corinth, but with Paul and Ephesus, being trained by Paul, being discipled by Paul. So Paul writes this letter from Ephesus, Sosthenes is there, Paul is giving greetings to them. Sosthenes, not the archa synagogues, not the head of your synagogue, he's our brother. He's our brother.
Now we're on the same team, we both worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Sosthenes, our brother. Just so you know, Paul, when he writes his letters, follows a pretty typical format of most letters in antiquity, and I like the way they wrote letters in ancient times. We could learn a lesson from how they wrote letters in ancient times. You see, when we write a letter, we say, dear so and so, then we write a page, and another page, and another page, and you don't know who's writing it until you get to the back page and it says, sincerely and you sign your name. Well, because of that, the first thing I do when I get a letter is go to the back page to find out who wrote it. It would be more helpful if they began by saying, here is who I am, and I'm writing this Skip to you. That's how they wrote letters in ancient times.
They would begin by stating who the letter is from, then who the letter is to, then they would give salutations, greetings of some kind, then they would usually have some formal thanksgiving of some kind. Paul follows that format in the opening remarks. But he calls himself, Paul, called to be an apostle. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series Expound First Corinthians. Right now, we want to share about a resource that will help you engage even deeper in your Bible study times. Guinness World Records has again confirmed that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time.
Research puts the number at up to seven billion, and portions of scripture have been translated into nearly 3,500 different languages. But there's a big difference between having access to God's Word and allowing it to change your life. Listen to this about practical Bible study from Skip Heitzig.
Observation must lead to interpretation, which must lead to application. As somebody once put it, if you want the meat, it's in the street. It's where you take the Bible truths and you put shoe leather on them.
It's where the rubber meets the road. You do what Jesus said. We want to increase the effectiveness of your personal Bible study with Skip Heitzig's book, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It. This practical guide is our way of thanking you when you give $25 or more to help keep this Bible teaching ministry on the air. Get your copy today and take the mystery out of studying scripture.
Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares how you can have freedom from sin and peace with God through Jesus. We're all flesh. We're all human. And yet I'm told I'm going to be blameless. I'm going to be presented as faultless.
How is that possible? One word answer. Justification. Justification Romans Chapter five, verse one, just reminding you of what you already know. Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
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