Opening Question: What have you heard about the Apostle Paul? How do you view Paul and his writings? There are a lot of opinions about Paul out there today, and it helps to take a minute to consider what angle we're each coming from. As we read this letter I hope you'll find that Paul (like his Lord Jesus) doesn't fit neatly into many of the boxes people have tried to put him in.
This week we start off with a short section of the letter which forms its formal opening. All Greco-Roman letters started off with who they were from and who they were going to, and often included a thanksgiving, which is how Paul starts off this letter. However Paul always takes these standard elements and uses them to introduce key ideas about what it means to be Christian, as well as some of the topics he'll be talking about in the body of the letter. So as we go further into the letter keep in mind what Paul says here.
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (The Geeting). Paul describes the church as those ‘made holy in Christ Jesus’ and those ‘called to be saints.’ Is this how you see the church? What do you think Paul means by the term saint?
- What we translate as the English work 'church' is the Greek word 'ekklesia'. This was an everyday word for the people in Paul's time - it wasn't a specifically 'religious' term. It refers to the political assembly of all citizens in a Greek city. The church for Paul then is like an alternative city or community. How does this compare to your understanding of 'the church'?
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 (The Thanksgiving). Have you had the experience of receiving spiritual gifts from God? What do you consider to be a ‘spiritual gift’? Why do you think God gives them to us?
- Paul uses Jesus' name eight times in these first nine verses. This makes it pretty clear that Jesus is absolutely central to Paul. Does Jesus have that place in our lives?