30 Lessons from 1 Corinthians 1-4
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In 1 Corinthians 1:18, the apostle Paul called his gospel “the message of the cross.” This was the message that he had preached and lived by when he had first come to Corinth.
There was a problem, however. The Corinthians had already heard a message of the cross, as preached by the Roman Empire.
The cross already had a message before Paul ever came to Corinth. Before Jesus was ever crucified, the cross was being used by the Roman Empire to speak its own word.
Crucifixion was not the most efficient way to execute a criminal. It was used because it sent an unforgettable message. It communicated shame, defeat, weakness, and humiliation in the most visceral and immediate way the Romans could find.
“If you defy the Roman Empire you will lose.” The Romans wanted this to be clear and unmistakable, and nothing said “loser” any louder or faster than a crucifixion did. The Romans got their message across, and everyone took it to heart—almost everyone, that is.
We are told in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus despised the shame of the cross. That means He scorned, ignored, and thought nothing of it. He understood the shame that the cross was meant to evoke, but He didn’t take it seriously. He blew it off.
Paul, likewise, was unintimidated and unashamed. He knew what the cross of the world was supposed to say, but the cross of Christ had said something much more important, and it had said it with much greater authority.
Fortunately for the Corinthians, and for us, Paul took the time to explain, in 1 Corinthians 1-4, what his “message of the cross” looked like in real life.
This book consists of thirty lessons taken from 1 Corinthians 1-4, sometimes looking at several verses at once, sometimes looking at just one verse or less. These lessons are not based exclusively on what is said in the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians, but draw from other parts of the Bible as well.
These lessons can each stand alone and can thus be read out of order, but I hope that reading them in order will also give you a sense of the progress of Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 1-4.
Above all, I hope that this book will deepen your appreciation for a great passage of the Bible and for the message of the gospel.
If you have resolved to proclaim, in word and in deed, by your life and by your example, the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, then it would be a honor if this book can serve you in any way. I hope it brings edification and encouragement to the people marked by the cross.