Monday, May 21, 2007

Is Christ Divided? session 3

I changed the format of these, due to complaints!! Click full post for text.
Notes for the house groups on 1 Corinthians.

Week three, beginning Sunday 29 April: 1 Corinthians 2.6 - 2.16

Main theme: spiritual wisdom;
not understood by the world, 'secret' and 'hidden';
requires being spiritual to be seen;
link with knowing Jesus (the 'mind of Christ').

Questions to prompt discussion

1.How do we know if someone is spiritual?
2.If you need to be spiritual to discern the truth - and therefore those who disagree must be unspiritual - how can we discern error in ourselves or in our community?
3.Can a Buddhist have 'the mind of Christ'?
4.Where does Paul quote from in verse 9? What does this indicate about worthy texts? And isn't it a wonderful text?!
5.What link is there between this passage (especially verses 11 and 15) and Jesus' command that we are not to judge (ie condemn) one another?
6.(A difficult one) - what is the difference between Paul's view and gnosticism (the view that it is by sharing secret knowledge - gnosis - that you are saved)?
7.Is Paul arguing that 'only the holy can see truly'? (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God) - how can we cultivate this holiness in our own lives?

Some background thoughts

In this passage Paul may be deliberately using vocabulary that the Corinthians would have used of themselves, ie a spiritual elite, in order to set them up for a painful fall in the beginning of chapter 3. He tends not to use much of this language elsewhere. Note in particular the shift to using 'we' language - a rhetorical device to lull the listeners and lower their guard!

Paul employs a distinction between 'this age' - when there are worldly rulers - and 'the age to come' - when Christ is revealed as the true Lord of heaven and earth. Christians live 'in between' these two ages - as if we are living in the dawn light, we have started to see what is coming, the sun has not yet fully risen, and some deny that it ever will.

Notes on verses

v 6 'mature' could also be translated 'perfect' - cf Mt 5 43-48
v 6 'rulers of this age' - cf Rom 8.38, Eph 6.12, Col 2.15
v 9 may be a pastiche of Isaiah 64.4 and 65.17 - or a quotation from the now lost text 'The Apocalypse of Elijah' (according to the Church Father Origen)
v 9 'those who love him' - Old Testament way of describing the faithful community
v 13 is best translated: '...taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people'

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