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2 Corinthians Introduction

10/01 2 Corinthians Introduction; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20171001_2cor-intro.mp3

Lost Books

Turn with me to 4th Corinthians… You will find it in your Bibles as 2 Corinthians, but it was likely the fourth letter Paul wrote to this church. 1 Corinthians 5:9 refers back to a previous letter that the Corinthians had misunderstood, so that would make our 1 Corinthians Paul’s second letter. Then 2 Corinthians 2 and 7 refers back to a painful letter that grieved the Corinthians, making 2 Corinthians his fourth letter to this tumultuous church.

So if you’ve ever heard of the lost books of the Bible, those are them. In the sovereign wisdom of God they were not preserved for us. God preserved his word exactly as he intended for us to benefit by it. If you hear people claiming that they have discovered some of the lost books of the bible, examine the evidence carefully. The ‘lost’ books that people often claim are not lost at all; rather they have been known throughout the history of Christianity and have been rejected by believers as false writings.

What we know as 2 Corinthians is a passionate letter, sometimes sarcastic, intimately personal and transparent, even raw. In it we see the heart of the apostle, and the depth of his love for a broken church. We get a glimpse into the emotional struggles of ministry, and how Paul handles conflict and tension in relationships. Most of all, we see ministry shaped by the cross; that the gospel message of Christ crucified shapes all authentic ministry.

History of the Church in Corinth

It will be helpful as we launch into a study of 2 Corinthians to sketch out a rough sequence of the history of this church and where this letter fits. On what is known as Paul’s second missionary journey, when Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia (Acts 16:6), he had a vision in which God called him to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10). They preached and were imprisoned in the Macedonian city of Philippi, and then after being released, they preached and were persecuted in Thessalonica and Berea. Paul was brought alone to Athens to escape the riots and preached there while he waited for Silas and Timothy to rejoin him. Listen to the birth of this church as Luke tells it in Acts 18:

Acts 18:1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. 18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. …

After over a year and a half in Corinth, Paul sailed for a brief stop in Ephesus, where he left Priscilla and Aquila, then on to the port of Caesarea. From there he visited the Jerusalem church, and then traveled back to his home church in Syrian Antioch. This ended his second missionary journey. Sometime after he left Ephesus, the eloquent Apollos came to Ephesus and was discipled briefly by Priscilla and Aquila before being sent with a letter of recommendation to the church in Corinth.

In the spring of the next year, Paul traveled by land north from Antioch through the regions of Galatia and into Asia, arriving at Ephesus and spending over 2 years there.

It was early during his first year in Ephesus that Paul received news of trouble in the church in Corinth, and wrote them the ‘previous letter,’ “not to associate with sexually immoral people” (1Cor.5:9).

Later, he received correspondence from the church in Corinth asking a number of questions, along with a report of more trouble in the church there, brought by Chloe’s people, possibly Sosthenes (1:1), Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus (16:17); he was also joined by Timothy and Erastus (Acts 19:22). At some point Apollos also returned to Ephesus with Paul (1Cor.16:12).

It was in response to their letter and the reports he was receiving that he wrote what we know as 1 Corinthians, and sent it with believers sailing to Corinth, possibly with Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, or maybe with Timothy or Titus. In 1 Corinthians, he addressed the issues of divisiveness and party spirit, immorality, idolatry, disorderly worship, and confusion over the resurrection.

Paul’s plan as stated at the end of 1 Corinthians, was to leave Ephesus the following spring and travel through Macedonia to visit them, and spend some time with them, and then the following spring to carry their gift to the church in Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 16:3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. 5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

But after Timothy arrived in Corinth and saw that the Corinthians did not respond well to Paul’s instructions, he sent word to Paul and Paul changed his plans and made an emergency visit to Corinth. This proved to be a difficult confrontation, a ‘painful visit’ (2Cor.2:1). After Paul returned to Ephesus, he was personally attacked and his authority rejected and undermined by the individual.

He apparently planned to complete his ministry in Ephesus, sail to Corinth, continue up through Macedonia to receive their collection, then stop again in Corinth on his way back to Jerusalem with the collection (2Cor.1:15-16). Instead, when he received news that things only got worse in Corinth after his painful visit, he sent Titus with a ‘painful letter’ (2Cor.2:3-4)

2 Corinthians 2:4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

Paul sent this third painful letter with Titus, and he sent Timothy and Erastus ahead into Macedonia to prepare for the collection (Acts 19:21-22). After a riot in Ephesus, Paul traveled north through Asia to the port at Troas. He says

2 Corinthians 2:12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

Paul expected that Titus would sail from Corinth to Troas with news. Finding no sign of Titus, Paul traveled on to Macedonia, where he says:

2 Corinthians 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn— fighting without and fear within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. …

The painful letter had accomplished its desired response from the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 7:13 Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15 And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.

It was in response to Titus’ report on Corinth that Paul together with Timothy wrote what we know as 2 Corinthians from Macedonia. He sent Titus ahead of him to deliver the letter, as he continued to minister in Macedonia and make his way down to Corinth.

Although Titus and the painful letter had accomplished much to mend the relationship between the Apostle and this church, there was still much work to be done, and 2 Corinthians attempts to move this work forward and prepare them for his visit. About a year later, Paul arrives in Corinth and stays with them for 3 months. Paul wrote his letter to the Romans during his stay at Gaius’ house in Corinth (1Cor.1:14; Rom.16:23). From there, he had to return through Macedonia because of a plot (Acts 20:3), and eventually returned to Jerusalem with the gift, where he was taken into Roman custody and eventually to Rome. Paul’s outlook in Romans is that

Romans 15:18 …Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; …23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

Apparently 2 Corinthians also accomplished its purpose.

Counter-Cultural

Corinth was a city where social status was a big deal; eloquent wisdom was prized, and pursuit of prosperity and power was the main goal. We already saw in 1 Corinthians that Paul took a totally counter-cultural approach. He refused to come with lofty speech or wisdom, but determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. He came in weakness and fear and much trembling (1Cor.2:1-5). God had turned the ideas of status and honor upside down by choosing the foolish, the weak, the low, the despised, the nothings, to shame the wise, powerful, noble, and strong, to eradicate boasting and pride (1Cor.1:26-31). Paul had offended them by working for his living with menial hands-on labor, refusing to take money from them (1Cor.9). He refused to put himself on a pedestal to be honored, rather identifying himself as a servant.

The Corinthians continued to struggle with these concepts that are really at the heart of the gospel. The gospel is a message of grace – being given something you don’t deserve.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus gave us what we didn’t earn. Jesus shows us that true greatness is not being served, but serving; humbly serving others for their good. The gospel is a message about a King who laid aside his royal robes and stooped down to serve in the filth and grime, in the lowest, most menial way.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul takes this very seriously; to seek honor is to abandon the gospel.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The Corinthians wanted an apostle that was powerful, eloquent, triumphant; but Paul’s ministry was characterized by suffering, affliction, shame, dishonor. He was weak, plain, poor, unimpressive. Instead of being served, he chose to serve others. Instead of accepting honor, he directed all honor to Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Outline

Chapters 1-7 explain the characteristics of genuine ministry; gospel ministry is ministry that looks like the gospel and is shaped by the gospel. Real ministry is service that embraces suffering for the good of others.

Chapters 8-9 encourage an experience of God’s grace to overflow in practical generosity to others.

Chapters 11-13 confront the false apostles who proclaim a false Jesus, a false Spirit, and a false gospel.

***

Timeline (approximate):

AD 50-51 Paul’s first visit to Corinth (1.5+ years) (Acts 18)

AD 52-55 Paul in Ephesus (2+ years) (Acts 19)

52 Writes ‘previous letter’ (1Cor.5:9)

53 Writes 1 Corinthians (1Cor.16)

54 Second ‘painful visit’ (2Cor.2:1)

54 Writes ‘painful letter’ (2Cor.2:3-4)

AD 55-56 Paul ministers in Troas and Macedonia (Acts 20:1; 2 Cor.7:5-7)

55 Writes 2 Corinthians from Macedonia (2Cor.7-9)

AD 57 Paul’s 3rd visit to Corinth (3 months) (2Cor.13:1; Acts 20:2-3)

57 Writes Romans from Corinth (Rom.16)

2 Corinthians Outline:

1-7 Gospel ministry is ministry shaped by the gospel

8-9 God’s grace overflows in practical generosity

10-13 False apostles proclaim a false jesus, false spirit, false gospel

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

October 1, 2017 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Made to Drink of One Spirit

09/14 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 Made to Drink of One Spirit;Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140914_1cor12_12-13.mp3

1 Corinthians 12 [SBLGNT]

11 πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἐνεργεῖ τὸ ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα, διαιροῦν ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ καθὼς βούλεται.

12 Καθάπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα ἕν ἐστιν καὶ μέλη πολλὰ ἔχει, πάντα δὲ τὰ μέλη τοῦ σώματος πολλὰ ὄντα ἕν ἐστιν σῶμα, οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστός· 13 καὶ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι ἡμεῖς πάντες εἰς ἓν σῶμα ἐβαπτίσθημεν, εἴτε Ἰουδαῖοι εἴτε Ἕλληνες, εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι, καὶ πάντες ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν. 14 Καὶ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα οὐκ ἔστιν ἓν μέλος ἀλλὰ πολλά.

1 Corinthians 12 [ESV2011]

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

The Corinthian church had asked Paul about what is spiritual, what makes someone spiritual, what are evidences or indications or signs of spirituality. What spiritual gifts demonstrate that one is spiritual? The Corinthians were wrapped up in status seeking, eager to be thought well of by others, striving to get ahead. Paul brought them back to the gospel, that everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord does so only because of the work of the Holy Spirit, and every believer in Jesus has the Holy Spirit, and so every believer is spiritual. Paul points them to the diverse distributions of the gifts that all come from the one triune God. He reminds them of the nature of these gifts as grace-gifts, undeserved blessings freely given by a generous God. They are services, designed for serving others. They are workings of God’s power, so that God alone gets the credit. He reminds them that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one. No one is left out. They are given to each one, but they are given for everyone. Your gift is not for you, it is for me. My gift is not for me, it is for you. Grace-gifts are given for the common good. He gives a sampling of 9 gifts in verses 8-11, repeatedly bringing us back to the fact that all the various grace-gifts are from one and the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers the gifts, and the Holy Spirit is the one who freely distributes the gifts to each one as he sovereignly intends.

The Body

Paul here introduces a body metaphor that he will flesh out in the rest of this chapter. A body is one thing. It is one integrated system. The human body is a staggering engineering marvel. The skeletal system, the muscular system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, reproductive system, the sensory systems, the immune system, not to mention all the things that work together to give us the capacity for rational thought, emotion, and volition. All these interconnected interdependent intricately designed finely tuned systems make up the human body. It is all one body. This is the illustration Paul uses to communicate the unity of the body. He says:

1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

Body Parts

The body is one and has many members. ‘Members’ is probably not the best translation, because we tend to think of members in a club. I paid my dues and have my card that entitles me to the perks and privileges of membership. That is exactly the opposite of what Paul intends to communicate here. ‘Body parts’ might be a better translation. He is referring to limbs and organs and the like. If anyone has taken human anatomy, you know that what Paul says here is true; the body has many parts. You may have had to memorize the names of some of those parts. There are 27 distinct bones in the hand alone. Each of those bones, together with the muscles, ligaments, tendons, veins, nerves and tissue make up the hand. One site lists 78 organs of the human body, each carrying out a distinct function. All these organs, all these systems, all these parts, together make up the body. The body is one and has many parts. All the parts of the body, though many, are one body. That is the illustration. The illustration is intended to teach theological truth. The theological truth is ‘thus also Christ.’ Just as the body is one and has many parts, so it is with Christ. Just as all the many parts of the body are one body, so it is with Christ. What is Paul saying here? In verse 27 he says:

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Each believer is a limb or organ of Jesus Christ. Christ is one but has many members. Addressing the issue of sexual immorality back in chapter 6, Paul said:

1 Corinthians 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

Your body is a limb or organ of Christ. You belong to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The body of Christ has many parts, many limbs, but it is one body. Paul gives the Holy Spirit as the reason behind this essential unity.

Baptism in the Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

It is the baptism of the Spirit that unites every believer with the one body of Christ. Some Christian groups teach that the baptism of the Spirit is some kind of a second blessing that happens subsequent to salvation, something that we should seek. This is exactly contrary to what Paul says here, that all of us were baptized into one body. This verse in 1 Corinthians is the only verse outside of the gospels and Acts that speaks of Spirit baptism. It is important that we spend some time understanding the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The word ‘baptize’ simply means to immerse, submerge or saturate something. It will help us to trace the history of Spirit baptism in the early church through the book of Acts and in the New Testament letters.

We can start with John. John the baptizer said:

Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (cf. Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33)

The risen Jesus, before he ascended to his Father commanded his followers:

Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

We see the fulfillment of this in Acts 2:

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The apostles identified this with the Old Testament promise that God would make a New Covenant with his people and pour out his Spirit.

Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

When the crowds were ‘cut to the heart’ and asked what they should do,

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

We are told that the hearers of the message, who believed the good news and were baptized, who received the Holy Spirit and were added to the church, were

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

…9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—

So the baptism of the Spirit came first to the Apostles, then to the Jews and proselytes who had gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.

Samaria

After the stoning of Stephen, Saul persecuted the church, and the believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. The Jews in Judea would have been well thought of, but the Samaritans were viewed as worthless apostate half-breeds who had abandoned the truth. Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus in Samaria and many believed and were baptized. We are told in Acts 8:

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

God was uniting believing Jews and Samaritans with his Spirit, demonstrating the dependence of the Samaritans on the Jewish apostles, and by making sure the Jewish apostles were there to witness first hand that God had indeed poured out the same Holy Spirit on the Samaritan believers.

Cornelius (Gentiles)

Then in Acts 10, we see Peter called to go to a Gentile’s house and proclaim the gospel to Gentiles. He proclaimed the good news of Jesus.

Acts 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

We see what a big deal this was because in Acts 11, Peter is receiving sharp criticism from some in the church in Jerusalem for going to the home of the uncircumcised. Peter has to defend himself. He says:

Acts 11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

God was uniting the church, Jew and Gentile, by his Holy Spirit.

Disciples of John

In Acts 19,

Acts 19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

Paul encounters a small pocket of disciples in Ephesus, who have not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul recognizes this as highly unusual, because the gift of the Holy Spirit accompanies belief in Jesus, so he begins to ask some more questions. It seems that these were disciples of John who had not yet become followers of Jesus. Upon belief in Jesus the Holy Spirit came on them.

The book of Acts chronicles the spread of the gospel starting with the Jews and spreading out across social and ethnic barriers, just as Jesus commanded.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit was intentionally uniting the church, Jew, Samaritan, and Gentile into one body. The only time the Spirit did not immediately come upon a new believer was for the clear purpose of breaking down barriers and uniting the one church.

The Epistles

This history fits the united testimony of the New Testament letters on the subject. Paul tells the believers in Galatia:

Galatians 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

All, Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, female, all are one in Christ Jesus. All are sons of God through faith. All were baptized into Christ. The gospel has successfully crossed gender, ethnic, and social barriers. These barriers are exactly what the Corinthians were trying to re-establish, division between the spiritual and the ungifted, the rich and the poor, the wise and the foolish, the strong and the weak, the haves and the have nots. Paul connects this barrier breaking unity to the work of the Spirit and to the cross where Jesus redeemed us from the curse.

Galatians 3:14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The Spirit is received through faith. Every believer has received the promised Spirit. Jew and Gentile alike receive the one Spirit through faith in our Lord Jesus.

He makes this clear in Ephesians

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

The cross of Christ has crushed the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Greek, and between every ethnic or economic or social barrier. God’s purpose was to make peace, to make us one, to reconcile us all to God in one body. He says in Ephesians 3:

Ephesians 3:6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Through the gospel Gentiles become members, body parts, limbs and organs, in the one body of Christ. He says this happened:

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The Holy Spirit unites every believer in the body of Christ through the gospel. Paul has already pointed to the calling of the Corinthians as evidence of the way the Spirit breaks down barriers and creates unity.

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, …

God is at work through his Spirit to abolish all pride, eliminate all boasting, and destroy all division in his body.

Made to Drink

1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

We were all baptized. All were made to drink. Both the verbs ‘baptized’ and ‘made to drink’ are in the passive voice, which means that it is not something that we do, but it is something that is done to us. John said that Jesus would do the baptizing with the Holy Spirit. This says we were all made to drink. You have heard it said that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. That may be true, but God can make him drink. Every believer, regardless of social standing, has been made to drink of one Spirit.

In John 7

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Jesus pointed to the Spirit, who would be given to everyone who believes in him. At that time, the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. Jesus was glorified through the cross.

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Jesus was glorified by dying. The foolish message of the cross is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. Like a grain of wheat, Jesus demonstrates power through weakness, and bears much fruit by dying. His followers are to follow him. We are to be like him, revealing strength through weakness, laying down our lives, our rights, our self-interest for others.

This is what the Corinthians needed to learn. They were seeking status, seeking to be recognized as spiritual. Everyone who believes in Jesus is spiritual, as Paul said,

1 Corinthians 12:3 …no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit brings unity. No single believer today is without the Holy Spirit. Because we were all made to drink of the one Spirit, because we were baptized in one Spirit we are parts, limbs and organs of Christ. We are connected to his body. We are united in him. Notice the text does not say that we ought to be, it does not say that we should try harder be, it does not say that we hope to become, the text says that we are. This is not something we strive for, this is something that was done to us by God. We were all baptized, we all were made to drink. We are parts of the body. We may not be functioning as parts, we may be disconnected, we may be sick and hurt, but the fact is that by God’s Spirit we are parts of the one body. The body is one. So it is with Christ.

There are not two bodies of Christ, or four or ten or seventy, there is one Spirit and one body. Every genuine follower of Jesus throughout time and across the globe is a part of that body. Jesus does not have a Baptist body, a Methodist body, a Pentecostal body, an Episcopalian body, a Lutheran body, a Presbyterian body, a non-denominational body. He has one body. His body is a diverse body, but every believer is a are part, a limb, an organ of the one body.

Lord Jesus, cause us to lay down our pride, our rights, our self-interest. Father, blind us to ethnicity or social or economic status or position. Holy Spirit let us honor one another, really love one another, rally us together with every genuine believer around the good news of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 14, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment