Imagine finding a letter in your mailbox with a message that reads: "I don't love you anymore. I'm leaving and won't be back ever again. Leave me alone or something bad will happen to you." Do you think it would it make a difference to know that the letter wasn't written to you? The fact is that we've gotten used to reading excerpts of other people's mail as if they were personal messages written to us. Why, then, would it surprise us when one day we read the note that seems to say He doesn't love us anymore?
What I'm telling you is that if you don't pay attention to the many references in Paul's letter regarding the relationship between himself and the Corinthians - especially taking note of his numerous references to third parties - you're going to find yourself misreading some things he wrote. You see, there's a reason we end up finding so many problem verses or passages, and it's mainly related to our habit of reading verses as if they were random fortune cookies. Of course, there are many truths that will shine through nonetheless, but it sure can't hurt to consider what the letter reveals about itself.
You might wonder, Why 1 Corinthians? Simple. Although many favorite verses are found within the letter, there's been an awful lot of damage foisted upon those sitting in the pews (as well as other places). While many preachers use 1 Corinthians as an instructional tool for new believers - for it is commonly regarded by Biblical scholars as an expose' on sin - I think it's past time we realize that it's been handed down to us with a total backward spin!
For while there can be no doubt that in writing his letter Paul exposed a proliferation of sin among those in Corinth his real purpose in doing so was to highlight exactly what he meant by the truth,
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law 1 Corinthians 15:56
Yep, the law!
How in the world do we so easily overlook this reality? For when men set themselves up as authorities by which they set forth the principles by which the work of God in you is to be judged they only establish a climate of fear and intimidation. All they do is to promote fleshly comparisons according to their own fleshly standards. And the result is always the same, for flesh only breeds more of itself!
Should anyone ever assume Paul was in any way focused upon sin in the course of his letter a simple consideration of his stated focus might put all to rest:
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
And should you suspect he deviated from his viewpoint somewhere between the first and second letter consider this:
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
Like I say, how do we ever let anyone convince us of anything else?
[By the way, this is a work in progress and will go through many revisions before it's all finished. Jim :)]