A letter for the lovers.

Written by Blue Pipe Thoughts.

After Proverbs I felt the urge to return to the epistles – not sure why, but I’m glad I did

  1. The letter starts with glad greetings from Paul and Soshenes, who ask the Corinthian church to be united in Christ and to remember that the foolish message of the cross is God’s true and saving wisdom
  2. Paul reminds his readers that he did not arrive among them with words of great eloquence, but preached only the crucified Lord – God’s wisdom which few can understand
  3. Faith is built upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, so even if shoddy building materials are used, and faith crumbles a bit, it cannot fail entirely
  4. As an apostle, I (Paul) don’t care about people judging or trying to glorify me, judgement should be left to God and glory given to God only
  5. We Christians cannot judge the world (God’s job), but we should expect high standards within our close Christian family and confront wrongdoing there
  6. If Christians in your Corinthian fellowship have to resort to outside authority to make judgement on a dispute, then both sides have already lost the case, because you should be true and faithful in your relationships
  7. Always be faithful to your heart, remember that life is fleeting and love worth pursuing
  8. It’s good that you understand eating meat from idolatrous sources won’t harm you spiritually, but remember not everyone gets it, so think about the example you set when you eat that stuff in public
  9. I (Paul) claim the right to be called an apostle and could therefore receive the financial support of the church as other apostles do, but I choose not to take advantage of this so that I can be flexible in my ministry
  10. Try to live by your convictions, but when temptation is too much and you fail, remember the story of God’s people in the wilderness; how they failed again and again, and yet were saved
  11. When it comes to worshipping together; be consistent in the traditions you follow, and remember that the Lord’s supper is a time to remember the death of Jesus – not an opportunity for some to stuff their faces!
  12. The spiritual gifts of Christians work together as part of a greater whole, like a human body, so there should be no hierarchy because all parts are valuable and needed – in fact we should take special care of the fragile bits!
  13. Of all the spiritual gifts the greatest is love, for it never fails
  14. The ambitious Christian should seek to be a prophet, because prophecy speaks of God – building up the faithful and convicting the unbeliever
  15. If, as Christians, we believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose from the grave, then we should be able to say with confidence that death is not the end
  16. I (Paul) hope to see you soon, and send you my love and prayers, as well as greetings from all of your Christian brothers and sisters here in Ephesus and in the Asian province xx

The approach I’m using of condensing each chapter into a single sentence is particularly interesting when it comes to some of the ‘challenging’ teaching of Paul. For example, chapter 14 contains the instruction that “the women should be quiet during the [church] meeting”, a text which has been used in many Christian traditions to silence women entirely, causing much pain and disagreement. I believe that Paul loved God, loved Jesus and loved his fellow Christians – men and women. But first and foremost in his letters he wanted to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. So it is the use of prophecy which is the highlight of my sentence drawn from chapter 14, because I feel that is at the heart of everything Paul is saying in this chapter, even though a lot of his word count seems to be concerned with praying in tongues and church order.

There is so much sweetness in Paul’s teaching and ministry which I feel gets lost when we put his words under a microscope and scrutinise them too closely. The way he names so many people in his greetings at the beginning and end of the letter speak of a man who was loving and loved. The way that he takes the time to write his own name in his own hand, when he signs off the letter transcribed for him shows a deep desire to connect with and care for the people he’s writing to – he really loves them – and that’s why I signed off my condensed version with a couple of kisses. Paul’s well known words about love in chapter 13 aren’t just lovely poetry that’s nice for weddings, he really meant it! And he sets us a high standard for Christian love

La charité fraternelle in marble, created in 1865 by Julien-Edouard Conny. Le château de Rambouillet.