Lectionary Year A
January 27, 2002
1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Step IV: Context

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) In Romans 15:5, Paul asks that God grant them the abilities to live "in harmony with one another, in accordance with Jesus Christ." Obviously, differences among people then were nearly as rampant as they are today, huh? Acts 18:24-28 tells of Apollos, a Jew and a native of Alexandria who came to Ephesus and was an eloquent speaker and well versed in Scriptures. He spoke enthusiastically and accurately of the things of Jesus, although he lacked some familiarity with the data regarding baptism, etc., but evidently willingly learned from Aquila and Priscilla. Cephas is another name for Peter, one of Jesus' disciples and a reputed leader in the New Testament Church. Gaius is a traveling companion of Paul's mentioned in Acts 19:29. Baptism was, of course, significant to early Christians; see Romans 6 and Galatians 3. It is specifically "into the name of Christ" in these chapters and Acts 8:16. Strife in the church of every stage of its development wants to be addressed to be resolved.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Naturally, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) emphasizes one God and the twelve tribes of ancient Israel needed to keep that principle clear. The Sibylline Oracles (8:245fff) tells of "the scandal of the world, illuminating the elect with waters in twelve streams." Disharmony is an integral part of every age and clime. I Corinthians can shed some much-needed light into every culture and season.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) The various parties' loyalties would certainly give these philosophers some grist to grind in their discussions. They might feel attracted to the eloquence and wisdom of the Apollos (he is called a "Hellenistic Jewish Christian" in The Interpreter's One Volume Commentary on the Bible) school in Corinth. Agreements and harmonies would, also, stimulate their dialogues as could the wisdom of talk and eloquent understandings. Bultmann (TNT, vol. 1, page 180) notes little surprise that first century Christians, like Hellenists, pursued knowledge with "unleashed" eagerness. Surely, the message of the cross could occupy their attention, as well.

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