Were There Saved Christians in Corinth?

Interim Ministry Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday March 14–16, 2023, Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama

The church in Corinth had every type of trouble and sin: division, pride, fornication, going to law with each other, marriage problems, influences from idolatry, disrespect during the Lord’s Supper, disorder in worship, and the false teaching of no possibility of resurrection.

Notice how Paul begins his letter to Corinth. He describes them (1 Corinthians 1:1-9):

  1. Church of God.
  2. Sanctified in Christ Jesus.
  3. Called to be saints.
  4. Grace given to you in Christ Jesus.
  5. Enriched in all speech and all knowledge.
  6. Not lacking in any gift.
  7. Jesus will sustain you to the end, guiltless.

How could Paul honestly write what he did to the Corinthians? They had multiple problems and missed the mark in many areas.

1 John 1:7 helps answer that:

But if we continue to live in the light, just as He is in the light, we have unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son continues to cleanse us from every sin (1 John 1:7, The New Testament in the Language of the People, by Charles B. Williams).

Unless John was talking about walking around in circles, a walk suggests a person is moving toward a destination. No one is mature (perfect) when they are born. As long as they are going through developmental stages, they are normal at whatever stage they’re in.

Some don’t develop normally (Hebrews 5:12-14). Paul will address this soon in 1 Corinthians.

We see this lack of maturity (perfection) in the apostles:

  1. Peter lacked mature faith, resisted Jesus washing his feet, denied Jesus, didn’t understand what he’d preached on Pentecost before seeing Cornelius, and relapsed at Antioch.
  2. James and John suggested fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans before John became the apostle of love (Luke 9:54).
  3. In Gethsemane, all the apostles forsook Jesus and fled (Matthew 26:56).

I wonder if Corinth wasn’t one of the most evangelistic congregations in the world at that time. They spread the message. People with many sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) responded and were baptized (Acts 18:8). They accepted them with their problems. They were still spiritual babies (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Paul addressed their needs one by one. He commanded them to withdraw from one person — the man living with his father’s wife — a sin so outrageous that even the Gentiles wouldn’t tolerate it. To the rest, he prescribed medication before amputation.

Observation: the biggest problem many churches have is we don’t have enough problems. We consciously or unconsciously screen undesirables because they would disrupt our neat and orderly group. People with these kinds of issues in Corinth would keep us busy all the time teaching, encouraging, rescuing, and repairing the distress that people who are weary and heavy-laden would bring to us.

But the Great Physician did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Physician assistants shouldn’t test people for a negative sin count before they can inquire about Jesus.

Interim Ministry Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday March 14–16, 2023, Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

8 Responses to “Were There Saved Christians in Corinth?

  • Keith Wishum
    1 year ago

    What a great statement! “Observation: the biggest problem many churches have is we don’t have enough problems.”

  • Tommy Shearer
    1 year ago

    We are too quick to pass judgment on others. Seems like this is part of what’s being said here. I typically get so much wrong, so please correct me if I’m off course.
    We need to see the good in people before we pass judgment on them and sentence them to what we might not pass onto ourselves.
    1 Corinthians 13, otherwise known as the, ‘ love chapter,’ ends with faith, hope and love. I think Paul is saying , as the LORD inspired him, we have our faith, and we can have our hope, but of the greatest, is love. Love can be easily seen, or not seen. As we strive to be better Christians, we have to maintain great love. Because if we don’t maintain this love, we aren’t worth anything.
    Tommy Lee Shearer

    • Tommy Lee,

      I think you are correct. The church (Christians) at Corinth had many problems that needed to be corrected. He wrote the letter to do that.

      There was one man who needed to be delivered to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

      I don’t let the “You’re going to hell” comment be the lead for every work of correction.

  • Eddie J Miller
    1 year ago

    “Where judgment ends and restoration begins.” So goes the motto of a church i once attended.

    Jerrie, your article about the Corinthians is completely in line with God’s strategy of consistently loving his flawed children and using them for good. Abraham, Moses, King David…all “after God’s own heart.” As you well observe all the disciples continued their immature ways up to the end.

    Thankfully,”he who began a good work in you (us) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Even Paul includes himself “And we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

  • Gwen Zimmerly
    1 year ago

    I agree that we consciously or unconsciously determine our response to people that require more “work” than we think we should expend on them. This decision is so automatic it’s not acknowledged. Perhaps it’s not registered as a decision at all. God help me to slow down and think, and think some more, about my response ability to share Christ’s love. Thanks Jerrie for your thoughtful reminders.