Articles

First Corinthians - Part 17

Introduction

Last time we finished with the verse:

KJG  1 Corinthians 7:16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
TBT  1 Corinthians 7:16 τί γὰρ οἶδας, γύναι, εἰ τὸν ἄνδρα σώσεις; ἢ τί οἶδας, ἄνερ, εἰ τὴν γυναῖκα σώσεις;

This salvation would come by way of the environment set up by the believer and it should be remembered that in the Acts period believers in the Lord had gifts given severally as the Lord willed. The obvious and clear manifestation of this witness coupled with a loving environment supplied by the believeing part would have a very strong influence on the unbelieving part.

It is true that we do not have these gifts today and must rely on other manifestaions to bring the unbelieving partner to Christ -- these would include:-

  • A consistent faithful life before man and God
  • A clear presentation of the gospel
  • The logical and powerful presentation of answers to questions which the unbeliever raised
    • Apologetics ( Logical answers about God's nature and creation)
    • Right Division ( The Bible seen as logical, trustworthy and dependable)
  • Loving environment -- Love will ultimately win.

Chapter 7:17-20

KJG  1 Corinthians 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
TBT  1 Corinthians 7:17 εἰ μὴ ἑκάστῳ ὡς ἐμέρισεν ὁ Θεός, ἕκαστον ὡς κέκληκεν ὁ Κύριος, οὕτω περιπατείτω. καὶ οὕτως ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις πάσαις διατάσσομαι.

The idea is that in whatever state the Corinthians found themselves (God's distribution), belivers with unbelievers or believers with believers, in these states they should live for this was the calling He had ordained. The walk was presecribed with boundaries and functioned to bring peace but it was a walk that needed discussion and attention for clearly there were problems in this domain. Paul arranged these things in all the acts churches that he had ministered to. It is clear that this idea was extended to other areas of life as the following verses show. This idea of extension is seen from chapter 6, meats for belly, belly for meats, body for the Lord, Lord for the body, husband's body for the wife, the wife's body for the husband and then the exception if the unbelieving depart let him/her depart and now other matters in this extensive list are considered.(18-24)

KJG  1 Corinthians 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
TBT  1 Corinthians 7:18 περιτετμημένος τις ἐκλήθη; μὴ ἐπισπάσθω. ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ τις ἐκλήθη; μὴ περιτεμνέσθω.

KJG  1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
TBT  1 Corinthians 7:19 ἡ περιτομὴ οὐδέν ἐστι, καὶ ἡ ἀκροβυστία οὐδέν ἐστιν, ἀλλὰ τήρησις ἐντολῶν Θεοῦ.

KJG  1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
TBT  1 Corinthians 7:20 ἕκαστος ἐν τῇ κλήσει ᾗ ἐκλήθη, ἐν ταύτῃ μενέτω.

Why is Paul dealing with circumcision now ? No doubt these matters were all a part of the "things" written by the Corinthians to Paul (7:1) which he now addresses in some detail. The calling comes from the Lord (7:17) to salvation -- the distribution from God. If salvation comes to the Jew he is not to become a Gentile if salvation comes to the Gentile he is not to become a Jew. There would be a problem if we saw circumcision ONLY as a physical act -- how would a man become uncircumcised after being circumcised? Further - do you think Paul is only talking to males here? This is possible since in verse 25 he addresses virgins however allowing the sign to represent the general state of being a Jew allows a direct application to women as the previous verses. The Acts believer was to remain in the same calling wherein he was called.  Verse 19 is interesting because it shows the fleshly part of the sign is nothing but only what it represents - that is the keeping of the commandments of God (ἀλλὰ τήρησις ἐντολῶν Θεοῦ.) The issue to keep in mind is that there are commandments for Gentiles and commandments for Jews. This is implied in the different callings -- if the callings were the same how could they remain in their respective callings? It is interesting also that Paul did not say that they all should be subsumed into one calling. 

KJG  1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. (1Co 7:20 KJG)

The word "calling" is the greek work klesis and appears some 11 times in the new testament. The callings of the New Testament are not "one" in the sense that they all have the same hope. The hope that comes to the Ephesians and finally to us in this age via the post acts epistles in general reveals a new calling. While we cannot affirm that every believer knows about this calling and has responded affirmatively to its unique gospel we can say that for those who know its distinctive teachings and super aqbounding grace that Light has indeed come. Light that frees us from the tradition of men and religions in general. 

κλῆσ* 

Rom. 11:29
1 Co. 1:26
1 Co. 7:20
Eph. 1:18
Eph. 4:1, 4
Phil. 3:14
2 Thess. 1:11
2 Tim. 1:9
Heb. 3:1
2 Pet. 1:10

 What we can see in the Acts is a calling and sub callings. The sub callings we have just been awakened to in 1Cor 7.20 -- Jews as Jews and Gentiles as Gentiles remaining in their respective callings but with the same hope that both communities could identify with.This hope centered on the second coming of Messiah to the eath in conformity to the scriptures. (1 Cor 15). While they were all one IN CHRIST equality did not extend to their stations in life as Gentiles and Jews. Rom. 1:16 -- Jew First, Rom. 11:24 Wild Olive tree. 

Today those who have been placed into the body of Christ bare exact equality -- Israel has been judged (Acts 28:28) and a new creation formed.

Eph 1:18  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Eph. 4:1 ¶  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 ¶  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

This reveals a big change from the situation where there were sub callings which involve an inequality. 

Moving from the Acts to the Post Acts epistles reveals a new era, age and dispensation. One which we need to learn and cherish for with this light comes the freedom and instruction which will enable us to fight the good fight with clarity and direction. Logic is on the side of right division, the Bible makes sense when it is allowed to speak in time and respecting the course of doctrine as God interacts with the nation of Israel and finally with His Church in this age.

PAul the prisoner of the Lord speaks to us as God's apostle and teacher -- we must make his message known.