Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is Christ Divided? session 7

Notes for the house groups on 1 Corinthians.
Week seven, beginning Sunday 11 June: 1 Corinthians 6

Click 'full post' for text.

Main themes: 1: Lawsuits
2: Theology of the Body

Questions to prompt discussion

1.Can a Christian ever take another Christian to court? What about insurance claims? What about a car crash?
2.If not - or even if generally not - how should the wider church community be involved? (Think discipline; think also about care and relief; think about what status this gives to the church as a practical (legal?) organisation)
3.Why not rather be wronged?
4.The wicked will not inherit the kingdom - but what if they are believers? (cf Rom 7.15)
5.What are the implications of our bodies being members of Christ?
6.Why 'flee' from sexual immorality? That is, why not try and fight it?

Supplementary thoughts:
Again the theme of judgement within the church community, and therefore of church discipline, is prominent. Paul is arguing strenuously for the community being competent within itself to resolve internal disputes. Appeal to an outside authority is an appeal precisely to the world, and therefore not an application of 'kingdom values'. Compare this attitude with that advocated in the Sermon on the Mount, especially in terms of inner spiritual orientation.

The second half is really an application of this first point to practical affairs, ie what people DO with their bodies. This isn't just about sexuality, but about the whole of human life, especially economic life - and therefore justice.

"Everything is permissible" - the heresy of antinomianism may have been behind the dispute in chapter 5 (antinomianism = there is no law; a misapplication of the freedom in Christ which believers enjoy). Freedom can itself become a form of slavery, to the individual will, so Paul is making two warnings - a choice can be harmful to the wider community (we'll come back to this one in chapters 8-10) but it can also be harmful to the individual themselves - 'mastering them', like an addiction. Paul has a much stronger sense of the nature of sin than do the Corinthians, and therefore of how individual choice is inevitably compromised or overwhelmed.

Notes on verses
vv 1-6 compare with Rom 13.1-7 (!)
v 2 compare Daniel 7.22; Rev 2.26-27
v 7 'cheated' (NIV) = defrauded, ie financial dispute
vv 9-10 compare Gal 5:19-21
v 11 probably a reference to baptism
vv 12 & 13 probably quotations from Corinth
v 13 'sexual immorality', Greek porneia anything sexually illicit, fornication
v 15 'members' = limbs

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