Week Forty-Seven Reading Assignment:
Romans 13 - 2 Corinthians 3
"The Corinthian Christians gave their founding pastor, Paul, more trouble than all his other churches put together No sooner did Paul get one problem straightened out in Corinth than three more appeared... But however much trouble the Corinthians were to each other and to Paul, they prove to be a cornucopia of blessings to us, for they triggered some of Paul's most profound and vigorous writing."
(Eugene Peterson, The Message)
(Eugene Peterson, The Message)
This Week's Teaching Video: Who In Their Right Mind?
Here is a link to the Steven Curtis Chapman song referenced in this week's teaching video.
Good Book Review: Paul's Problem Child
Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 21 are epistles. Of the 21 epistles, 13 were written by Paul. Of the 87 chapters in the New Testament that were written by Paul, 29 of them were addressed to the Corinthians.
We have two letters from Paul to the church in Corinth, as well as textual evidence of at least one or two other letters that he wrote to them along the way. And we discover, in this consider-able corpus of Corinthian material, that Corinth was Paul’s problem church.
First Corinthians is systematically organized around a series of questions and problems arising from the church in Corinth. Evidently Paul had received both a letter from Corinth and a personal report about the church there. In First Corinthians, then, he responds to their questions and problems. They have questions about marriage, about food offered to idols, about the resurrection, etc. Their problems, meanwhile, include immorality, infighting, sects, and lawsuits all going on within the congregation.
Furthermore, we gather that even some of their good is bad in Corinth. We sense, for example, that there exists a misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts in that church. Also, Paul condemns them for their displeasing participation in the Lord’s Supper.
Second Corinthians, too, reveals a problem church. They have been misled, and it appears that they've had a falling out with Paul. He has been both hurt by them and stern with them.
And for all this, we may be very grateful to those early Christians in Corinth! Their struggles were not unique, after all. Peo-ple are people, and not much went on in Corinth that doesn't still plague Christians and churches still. And it is because of those problematic Corinthians that we have twenty-nine chapters of Paul’s insight, instruction, and wisdom on some matters that may still be very close to home today.
"There is enough undiscovered truth in the Scriptures to produce a Reformation and an evangelical awakening in every generation."
New Testament Chronology
Dating New Testament events is an inexact science. Certainly not every story or event in Scripture is specifically tied to some external point of reference for which we know the precise date. And so we are left to estimate to the best of our ability based on what we do know and what Scripture does tell us.
In his volume on the Apostle Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free, New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce includes this helpful chronological table:
c. 28-30 public ministry of Jesus
c. 33 conversion of Paul
c. 35 Paul's first post-conversion
visit to Jerusalem
35-46 Paul in Cilicia and Syria
46 Paul's second Jerusalem visit
47-48 Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus
? 48 letter to the Galatians
49 Council of Jerusalem
49-50 Paul and Silas travel from
Antioch through Asia Minor to Macedonia and Achaia
50 letters to the Thessalonians
50-52 Paul in Corinth
52 Paul's third Jerusalem visit
52-55 Paul in Ephesus
55-56 letters to the Corinthians
55-57 Paul in Macedonia, Illyricum
57 letter to the Romans
57 Paul's final Jerusalem visit
57-59 Paul's imprisonment in
59 Paul's voyage to Rome
60 Paul's arrival in Rome
60-62 Paul under house-arrest in
?60-62 "captivity letters"
?62 Paul visits Spain
? "pastoral letters"
?65 death of Paul
F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Erdmans, 1986) p. 475.