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Drama in the Church

Drama in the Church

Words of Faith 4-17-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017


Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Today we will begin devotional study in the book of 1 Corinthians. JDH

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1 Corinthians 1

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

[2] To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--their Lord and ours:

[3] Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So what is this letter about? We often page through to our favorite parts or read selections at weddings and funerals. But what was this letter really about?

Today, we might say that it was about "drama.” Not a "drama ministry" that presents thoughtful theatric productions, but "drama" as in people involved in conflict and turmoil in the local church.

How do we deal with such "drama"? Do we just walk away? Do we form a house church with only people that we like or attend an arena church where we never get below the surface? The Corinthian letter will guide us into the deeper truths of what it means to walk with God and in relationship to the Body of Christ, even when there is drama.

A few words of introduction are important before we dig in. Context really is vital.

Paul's letter to the church at Corinth was probably his fourth known letter as an Apostle after Galatians and the two Thessalonian letters. Paul had come to Corinth in 51AD while on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-18). While Paul was there, he wrote the two letters to the Thessalonians. In Corinth, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, a Jewish Christian couple who had left Rome in 49AD when Emperor Claudius issued an edict ordering the expulsion of Jews from that city. This couple team was a great help to Paul, hiring him as a tentmaker and then supporting his ministry there.

Corinth was a strategic seaport city at the crossroads of all shipping west to east and all land trade north to south. This wealthy port city had a reputation for athletic games, great temples, vulgar materialism, and immorality. Even in the ancient Greek world, the name "Corinthian" was associated with loose morals and even became a euphemism for fornication. The temple of Aphrodite boasted a thousand temple prostitutes. This was a place that desperately needed the Gospel.

Paul had stayed in Corinth one and one-half years initially after which he sailed in the fall of 52AD to Ephesus while on his way to Jerusalem. Priscilla and Aquila accompanied Paul to Ephesus where they remained to instruct a gifted Alexandrian named Apollos, whom they subsequently sent on to Corinth for ministry there (Acts 18:18-28). While Apollos was ministering in Corinth (Acts 19:1), Paul returned to Ephesus on his third missionary journey in the fall of 53AD for about two and one-half years (Acts 19).

But there was "trouble in River City,” so to speak. There were divisions and disrespect among the believers. Some were involved in immorality while others were pridefully carried away with the demonstration of their own spiritual gifts. From Ephesus, Paul wrote an initial communication that was misunderstood and then was lost (5:9-11).

When Paul learned that this first communication was misunderstood he also heard of other problems in the church at Corinth from the household of Chloe (1:11). Then an official delegation of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (16:17) brought Paul specific questions on issues that were dividing the church. 1 Corinthians was written in 54 or 55AD to address these matters.

Timothy later brought news that even this letter did not resolve the problems in the church and Paul then decided to revisit the church in what he called the "painful visit" in 2 Corinthians 1:15 and 2:1. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians and followed it up with his third visit during the winter of 56-57AD (Acts 20:1-4).

Wow. Quite a lot of drama, wasn't it? Apparently local churches have always had a lot of drama. Some of what we see here will probably make us very thankful for the church we are a part of! Most importantly, we will gain clear insight and direction regarding issues that are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago.

If the letter to the Ephesians is regarded as a letter concerned with the universal church, the Corinthian letters are pointedly concerned with the local church. While some matters dealt with are very specific to first century culture, the letters to the church at Corinth are carefully directed to the many challenges and problems that can occur in any local church.

Here we gain an insight into one first-century church, but we also see universal principles for guiding and directing a local church. The truths shared here are especially poignant for the modern church as we contend with the influences of the world.

Perhaps it is best to begin our study in prayer.

Father God, I give thanks to You for the church. Thank You for Your patience in building the Body of Christ out of flawed and broken vessels. I am thankful that you have chosen to work through the Body of Christ in all of our imperfections, struggles and painful drama. Use this study in the Corinthian letters to shape me and mold me into the image of Christ. Draw me into a closer walk with You and a closer love for those who are part of the Body of Christ. In Jesus' name.