Category Archives: Michael D. Rhodes

Baptism in Behalf of the Dead among the Early Christians (1 Corinthians 15:29)

By Richard D. Draper. Material adapted from Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, BYU Studies, 2010).

“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

Because of its implications on theology and particularly soteriology, this verse has generated a large amount of scholarly research, interpretations, and debate, especially outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The concept of baptism for the dead simply does not align with mainstream Christian theology. But Christians cannot just ignore it. Their problem is, in part, that Paul refers to a practice that is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible and, therefore, cannot be elucidated. And further, he does not explicitly condemn it, suggesting it was among the accepted Christian practices. Such a practice does go against certain aspects of Christian dogma but the rub is that it does not make sense for Paul to use a practice that he would consider heretical in order to support sound doctrine. The problem has forced some theologians and scholars to insist that this practice must really refer to something besides proxy baptisms. This insistence has resulted in a plethora of different interpretations passed down from various authorities, but in every instance, these scholars must violate the clear meaning of the text. For this reason, a number of scholars agree that those who “are baptized for the dead” were actually performing vicarious work in their behalf. As one non-LDS scholar noted, “This reading [that the verse refers to vicarious baptisms] is such a plain understanding of the Greek text that no one would ever have imagined the various alternatives were it not for the difficulties involved.”[1] Another scholar noted, “The explanation of vicarious or proxy baptism remains the most plausible, even though its meaning is not fully clear.”[2]

Thus, the biblical text is clear that some kind of work for the dead was going on among the early Saints. This fact, however, tells the reader nothing about precisely who was doing it and how it was done, but it does tell us why—in anticipation of a corporeal resurrection. Indeed, this verse as serves as a rejoinder to the Christian heresy circulating at the time that baptism with the bestowing of the Holy Ghost was the resurrection because it raised the recipient to a newness of life.

The Apostle’s point is that the practice of vicarious work for the dead makes no sense at all if there is no resurrection. The third-person plural “they” suggests that the practice was not being done at that time in Corinth. That Paul briefly mentions it shows, however, that it was well-known to them. “Paul was not writing to them about a new doctrine,” noted Elder Orson Pratt, “but about one which they understood and practiced, and he tried to prove to them the nature of the resurrection and that such a principle as the resurrection was true, from the very fact that they were practicing baptism for those who were dead, in order that they might receive a more glorious resurrection.”[3]

As one LDS scholar noted, “There is some evidence, in addition to the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:29, that proxy baptism for the dead was practiced among and by early Christians. Indeed, in the iconography, in the typology, and in the baptismal instruction of the early church fathers one may discern at least two different sorts of initiation: one through water baptism, and the other through certain initiatory oblations and anointings and baptism for the dead. . . . That men and women are privileged to ‘go through’ each and all of the patterns and ordinances for and in behalf of their deceased families and others is unusual in contemporary religious practice. But, again, the proxy and representational ideas are not at the periphery of early Jewish and Christian practice; they are at the core.”[4]

[1] Gordan D. Fee, First Epistle of the Corinthians [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987), 764.

[2] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), 580.

[3] Journal of Discourses, 16:297.

[4] Truman G. Madsen, “The Temple and the Restoration,” in Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 12.

See also Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity, vol. 4 of The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, Utah: F.A.R.M.S., 1987), 100–167; and for a non-LDS study see Bernard Foschini, “‘Those Who Are Baptized for the Dead’: 1 Cor 15:29,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 12 (1950): 260–76, 379–88; 13 (1951): 46–78, 172–98, 276–83.

What is Paul’s understanding of love? (1 Corinthians 13)

by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, extracted from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, BYU Studies, 2017).

With acute insight, one LDS scholar stated that “First Corinthians 13 is the most moving chapter of the New Testament outside of Jesus’ teachings, a fact that suggests its real source” (Anderson, Understanding Paul, 117).  He further noted that its power comes, in part, like that of the Sermon on the Mount because “it treats the disease, not the symptoms” (Anderson, Understanding Paul, 117). Paul’s intent, as he so precisely stated in 12:31, was to show his readers “a more excellent way,” and in this chapter he does so. To identify that way, he chose a single word: “love” (Greek agape). The KJV translates it with the English word “charity.” Continue reading

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: New Rendition, 1 Cor. chapters 8-13

As rendered by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper. This text is available in Amazon Kindle and from Deseret Bookshelf at no charge. The text is extracted from the full commentary published in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. 

Meat Offered to Idols (8:1–13)

1 Now concerning meat sacrificed to idols, we know that “We all have knowledge.” Knowledge makes people conceited, but love builds them up. 2 If someone thinks he has come to understand something, he does not yet understand as well as he ought to. 3 But if someone loves God, that person is acknowledged by him. 4 Returning to the topic of eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “there is no such thing as an idol in the entire universe,” and “there is no God but one.” 5 Indeed, even if there are those who are called gods, whether in heaven or on the earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6 Nevertheless, for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and in him we live; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and through whom we are. 7 But not everyone has this knowledge. And some having previously become accustomed to idols, still consider the food they eat as food offered to idols, and because their sense of right and wrong is weak, it is defiled. 8 Now food will not bring us closer to God. For if we eat it we are not any better off, and if we do not eat it, we are no worse off. 9 But be careful that your own liberty does not somehow become an obstacle for the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you, one who has knowledge, having a meal in an idol’s temple, since that person’s sense of right and wrong is weak, will he not be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So by your knowledge, a weak person is brought down to destruction, a brother or sister for whom Christ died. 12 But if you sin against your brothers and sisters and wound their weakened sense of right and wrong, you sin against Christ. 13 For this very reason, if some food causes my brother or sister to sin, I would never eat any kind of meat again, so that I would not cause a brother or sister to sin.

The  Corinthian Converts Are  the Seal of  Paul’s  Apostleship (9:1–2)

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the evidence of my work in the Lord? 2 Even if I am not an apostle to others, to you at least I am, for you are the certification of my apostleship in the Lord.

Paul Defends His Apostleship (9:3–7)

3 My defense to all those who question my apostleship is this: 4 Do we not have a right to be provided with food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to travel together with our wives, even as the other apostles, and the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who do not have the right to not work? 7 Who serves in the army at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the grapes? Who shepherds a flock and does not drink some of the goat’s milk?

The Privileges of Those Who Preach the Gospel (9:8–12a)

8 I am not saying these things from a human perspective; does not the law also say the same thing? 9 For in the law of Moses it is written, “You shall not muzzle an ox that is threshing grain.” Surely God is not concerned about oxen. 10 Isn’t he certainly speaking for our benefit? It was indeed written for us, because the plowman should plow and the thresher should thresh in hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it a big deal that we wish to reap material benefits from you? 12a If others share in this claim on you, don’t we have a greater one?

Paul Has Chosen Not to Avail Himself of These Privileges (9:12b–14)

12b But we have not made use of this right. Instead we endure all things so that we will not cause any hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you understand that those who perform holy services eat from the offerings of the temple? Don’t those who serve regularly at the altar receive a portion of that which is sacrificed at the altar? 14 Likewise the Lord has also arranged for those who preach the gospel to receive their living from the gospel.

Paul Has Freely Taught the Gospel (9:15–18)

15 But I have not used any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to obtain them, for I would rather die than that—no one will deprive me of my reason for pride. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for pride, for I am under obligation, and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward. But if unwillingly, I have been entrusted with a commission. 18 So what is my reward? To offer the gospel free of charge when I preach, without taking advantage of my authorized rights in the gospel.

Paul Has Done Everything He Could to Win Converts to Christ (9:19–23)

19 For although I am free from all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I can gain more converts. 20 To the Jews, I became like a Jew, so that I could gain converts among the Jews. To those under the Law, I became like one under the Lawalthough I was myself not under the Lawso that I could gain converts among those under the Law. 21 To those without the Law, I became like one without the Law, although I was not without the law of God but was rather subject to the law of Christ, so that I could gain converts from those without the Law. 22 To the weak, I became weak, so that I could gain converts among the weak. I became all things to all people so that I might at least save some from death. 23 I do all these things on account of the gospel, so that I might share in its blessings.

Do All You Can to Win the Prize of Salvation (9:24–27)

24 Don’t you understand that in a race, everyone runs, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you will win the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in sports prepares himself through self-discipline, and they do this so that they can receive a perishable prize, but we will receive an imperishable one. 26 Accordingly I, for my part, do not run as one uncertain of his goal, nor do I box as one swinging at shadows. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under control, so that having preached to others, I myself do not somehow end up disqualified.

The Example of the Exodus (10:1–5)

1 Now I don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. 2 And all of them were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual drink, for they were all drinking from that spiritual rock which was following them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, so they were struck down in the wilderness.

Paul’s Application—a Warning against Idolatry (10:6–13)

6 These things happened as an example for us, so that we would not crave evil things like they did. 7 So do not worship idols like some of them did, as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play.” 8 We should not engage in illicit sex like some of them did, and twenty-three thousand of them were destroyed in a single day. 9 And we should not put Christ to the test like some of them did, and they were killed by snakes. 10 Do not murmur like some of them did, and they were killed by the Destroyer. 11 These things happened to serve as a warning to them, and they were written down as an admonition for us, on whom the end of the age has come. 12 And so anyone who thinks he is standing firm, let him beware that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has come upon you except that which is common to all mankind. But God can be trusted—he will not let you be tempted beyond that which you are able to overcome, but with that temptation he will provide a means of escape so that you will be able to endure.

The Prohibition against Attending Pagan Temple Feasts (10:14–22)

14 For this very reason, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 I am speaking to you as sensible people. Carefully consider what I am saying. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, isn’t it a sharing in the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, isn’t it a sharing of the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf of bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share in that one loaf of bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel. Aren’t those who eat the sacrifices partners with the altars? 19 What am I implying? That food offered to idols is anything or that an idol itself is anything? 20 No. I am saying that what they offer on the altar, “they offer to demons and not to God,” and I don’t want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink both the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot participate in the Lord’s supper and the supper of demons. 22 What! Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are certainly not stronger than him, are we?

On Eating Meat from the Marketplace and as a Guest (10:23–33)

23 “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is useful. 24 Don’t seek to benefit yourself, but to benefit others. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without asking questions of conscience, 26 for the earth is the Lord’s and everything that is in it. 27 If any unbeliever invites you to dinner, and you want to go, eat whatever is set before you without questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This is from a sacrifice,” then don’t eat it because of the one who informed you and because of conscience. 29 I don’t mean your own conscience, but because of the other person’s conscience. For why should my freedom of choice be condemned by another’s conscience? 30 If I eat with gratitude, why should I be condemned for food that I have given thanks for? 31 Therefore, whatever you eat or drink or do, do them all for the glory of God. 32 Do not give offence to either Jews or Gentiles or the Church of God, 33 just like I try to please everyone in everything, not seeking my own benefit, but the benefit of the many, so that they might be saved.

Covering the Head in Worship (11:1–16)

1 Follow my example as I myself follow Christ’s example. 2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions just as I have passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for it is the same thing as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, then she should get her hair cut off. Now if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should keep her head covered. 7 For a man should not cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man, 9 neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have control over her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is woman independent of man nor man independent of woman in the Lord. 12 For just as woman came from man, so also man comes through woman. But all things come from God. 13 Judge for yourselves, is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? Because long hair is given her for a covering. 16 Now if anyone is disposed to argue about this, we have no such custom, neither do any of the churches of God.

Abuses at the Lord’s Supper (11:17–22)

17 Now in giving the following instruction, I do not commend you, because you hold your meetings in such a way that they are not beneficial, but rather the opposite. 18 For in the first place, when you meet together as a church, I hear that there are dissensions among you, and, in part, I believe it. 19 For there must indeed be factions among you so that it becomes evident which of you is genuine. 20 Consequently, although you meet together in the same place, it is not really to partake of the Lord’s Supper, 21 because when it is time to eat, each goes ahead with his own meal, and some go hungry and others get drunk! 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or are you showing contempt for the church of God and humiliating those who do not have anything? What should I say to you? I will certainly not commend you in this action!

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper (11:23–26)

23 For I received from the Lord what I have passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, 24 gave thanks and broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 Likewise, after the meal he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper Unworthily (11:27–34)

27 Consequently, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 So each person should examine himself, and in this way partake of the bread and drink the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without due regard for the body, eats and drinks condemnation against himself. 30 For this reason, many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are even dead. 31 But if we would regularly examine ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, so that we might not be condemned with the rest of the world. 33 And so, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If someone is hungry, let him eat at home so that when you meet together it will not be to your condemnation. Now as for the other things, I will give detailed instructions when I come.

The Testimony of Jesus  (12:1–3)

1 Now concerning spiritual matters, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were nonmembers that you were constantly enticed being led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is the Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Gifts (12:4–11)

4 Now there are a variety of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are a variety of ways of serving, but the same Lord. 6 There are a variety of activities, but the same God, who produces all of them in everyone. 7 Each person is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one the gift of speaking wisely is given through the Spirit, to another the gift of speaking knowledgeably in accordance with the same Spirit. 9 To another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healing by the very same Spirit, 10 to another the performing of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the ability to translate languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit produces all these things, who, in accordance with his own will, allocates them privately to each individual.

One Body with Many Parts (12:12–26)

12 For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, although they are many, are a single body, so too is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, and we all have been given to drink of the very same Spirit. 14 Now the body is not just a single part, but many. 15 If the foot were to say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” is it then, because of that, not part of the body? 16 And if the ear were to say, “I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” is it then, because of that, not part of the body? 17 If the entire body were an eye, how would it hear? If the entire body were an ear, how would it smell? 18 But in fact God has assembled each of the parts of the body just as he wanted. 19 But if they were all a single part, where would the body be? 20 So now there are many parts, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” Furthermore, the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 On the contrary, even more so, those parts of the body that seem to be less important are essential, 23 and as for those parts of the body we think are insignificant, we bestow upon them even more respect, and those parts of our body that should not be displayed are treated with greater respect. 24 Now the parts of our body that are respectable do not need this. But God has assembled the body together into a harmonious whole, giving much greater honor to the inferior part, 25 so there will be no divisiveness in the body; instead the individual parts of the body will be equally concerned about each other. 26 If one part of the body suffers, then all parts suffer together. If one part of the body is honored, then all parts rejoice together.

The Order of Officers and Gifts in the Church (12:27–31)

27 Now you yourselves are the body of Christ, and each one of you are a part of it. 28 God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helpful deeds, leadership skills, the ability to speak other languages. 29 Certainly all are not apostles, nor are all prophets, nor are all teachers, nor are all able to perform miracles. 30 Certainly all do not have the gift of healing, nor are all able to speak other languages, nor are all able to interpret. 31 You should earnestly strive for the greatest spiritual gifts. And now I will show you a far better way.

The Necessity of Love (13:1–3)

1 If I were to speak in the tongues of men or even of angels, but did not have love, I would have become like a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 And if I should have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have complete faith so that I could move mountains, but did not have love, I am nothing! 3 And if I should give away all my possessions, and if I should give over my body that I be burned, but did not have love, I would gain no benefit.

Characteristics and Actions of Love (13:4– 8a)

4 Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, does not brag, is not conceited. 5 Does not behave rudely, is not self-serving, is not easily angered, does not hold a grudge. 6 It does not delight in wickedness, but delights in truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8a Love never fails.

The Permanence of Love (13:8b–13)

8b If there are prophecies, they will pass away; if there is speaking in tongues, it will cease; if there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we now understand imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly. 10 But when perfection comes, that which is imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside childish things. 12 Because now we see indirectly in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I understand imperfectly, but then I will understand completely even as I have been completely understood. 13 And now these three things endure, faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of them is love.

Continue reading

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: New Rendition, 1 Cor. chapters 1-7

As Rendered by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper. This text is available in Amazon Kindle and from Deseret Bookshelf at no charge. Further chapters will be added shortly.  

Salutation (1:1–3)

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Brother Sosthenes, 2 to the Church of God that is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, who are called as Saints, together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in every place, their Lord as well as ours. 3 Grace to you and peace from our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving (1:4–9)

4 I am continually expressing gratitude to my God for you because of the grace of God which has been given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 that you have been enriched in everything through him, in all your speech and understanding, 6 in the same way that the testimony of Christ has been confirmed among you, 7 so that you do not fall short in any spiritual gift as you look forward to the revealing of our Lord, Jesus Christ, 8 who will also strengthen you until the end, so that you will be found blameless in the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Divisions and Factions in the Church (1:10–17)

10 I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to all speak with a united voice, and not allow any divisions to be among you, but to be completely unified in your thoughts and intentions. 11 For it has been brought to my attention by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you. 12 This is what I mean: some of you say, “I follow Paul,” others say “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Christ is certainly not divided! Surely Paul was not crucified for you, nor were you baptized in Paul’s name! 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that none of you can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Beyond that I do not recall if I baptized anyone else. 17 Because Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, without clever speaking, so that the cross of Christ would not be made ineffective.

The Foolish Wisdom of the Cross (1:18–25)

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are on their way to spiritual ruin, but to those of us who are on our way to salvation, it is the very power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the intelligence of the intelligent I will reject.” 20 Where is the sage? Where is the scriptural scholar? Where is one skilled in the philosophy of this world? Has not God shown the wisdom of the world to be foolishness? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world, by its wisdom, did not understand God, God resolved to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching. 22 For Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, an affront to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

God’s Choice of the Foolish (1:26 –31)

26 Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters. Not many of you are clever by human standards, not many are people of importance, not many are of high status. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world so that he might put the powerful things to shame. 28 God chose the insignificant things of the world, and the things that are despised, things that are regarded as nothing, to nullify the things that are regarded as being something, 29 so that no one can boast in God’s presence. 30 It is because of him that you have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul’s Preaching of Christ to the Corinthians (2:1–5)

1 Now when I myself came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with eloquent speech or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the mystery of God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I appeared before you in weakness and fear and with considerable trepidation, 4 and my speaking and my preaching was not with the persuasiveness of wisdom, but with the convincing proof of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

The True Wisdom of God (2:6– 8)

6 However, we do speak wisdom among the spiritually mature, but not the wisdom of this world or of the leaders of this present age who are doomed to perish. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom which is hidden in a mystery, which God foreordained for our glory before the world was, 8 which none of the leaders of this present age has understood, for if they had understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Intellectual versus Spiritual Understanding (2:9–16)

9 But as it is written: “That which neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into a person’s heart—all these things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 But to us God has revealed them by the Spirit, for the Spirit fathoms all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For what human being understands human things except the human spirit that is in him? So too, no one understands the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which comes from God, so that we can understand the things which God has generously given to us; 13 which we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom but those taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things by means of spiritual things. 14 But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, because they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But one who is spiritual discerns all things, but is himself discerned by no one. 16 For who knows the mind of the Lord so that he can advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Divisions in the Corinthian Church (3:1–9)

1 And yet, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. But even now you are still not ready, 3 because you are still under the influence of things of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and dissension among you, are you not under the influence of things of the flesh, and are you not behaving in a fleshly manner? 4 For whenever someone says, “I follow Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” are you not merely human? 5 Now what is Apollos? Or what is Paul? We are servants through whom you came to believe, even as the Lord assigned to each of us. 6 I did the planting, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. 7 So then neither the one who does the planting nor the one who does the watering matters, but rather God who causes the growth. 8 But he who does the planting and he who does the watering are united, and each will receive his own reward according to his own work. 9 For we are God’s coworkers, you are God’s field, God’s building.

Building the Church of God (3:10–15)

10 According to the grace that God has given me, like a skilled masterbuilder I have laid a foundation. Another is building upon it. But let each one pay close attention to how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than the one that has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 And if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clearly known, because it will be revealed by fire, and that very fire will test the kind of work each has done. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built upon the foundation survives the test, he will receive his reward. 15 If anyone’s work is consumed by the fire, he will suffer loss, but will himself be saved, but only as by fire.

God’s Temple (3:16 –17)

16 Don’t you understand that you are a temple of God and that God’s Spirit dwells within you? 17 If anyone tries to destroy God’s temple, God will destroy that person, for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple!

A Warning against Self-deception (3:18–20)

18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one of you thinks he is wise in the ways of this world, let him become a fool, so that he might become truly wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness from God’s point of view, for it is written, “He traps the wise in their own trickery,” 20 and further, “The Lord knows that the reasoning of the wise is futile.”

All Things Belong to the Saints (3:21–23)

21 Therefore, let no one boast in mankind, for everything belongs to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death, or the present or the future, everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Faithfulness (4:1–5)

1 So people should consider us as assistants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2 In this case, moreover, what one looks for in a steward is that he is trustworthy. 3 But it is to me of little or no importance that I am judged by you or by any human tribunal, indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not conscious of any wrongdoing, but I have not been acquitted on account of that; it is the Lord who judges me. 5 So do not pass any judgment before the proper time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light things hidden in darkness and will disclose the motives of our hearts. Then each person will receive recognition from God.

Admonition against Pride  (4:6– 8)

6 Brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that by our example you might learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that you will stop your prideful favoring of one person over another. 7 For who considers you superior? What do you have that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8 You already have enough! You are already rich! You have become kings without us! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we might rule with you.

The World’s Treatment of the Apostles (4:9–13)

9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display as the most insignificant of mortals, like men condemned to die, because we have become a universal spectacle, both to angels and to mortals. 10 We are fools on account of Christ, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honored, we are despised. 11 Even until this present time we are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten and homeless. 12 We are worn out from working with our own hands. When we are insulted, we respond with kind words; when we are persecuted, we endure it patiently; 13 when we are defamed, we seek to reconcile. We have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of all people, even until this present time.

Admonition (4:14–17)

14 I am not writing these things to make you feel ashamed, but to admonish you as my own dear children. 15 For though you may have countless guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 Therefore I encourage you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, and he will help you remember the ways I conduct my life in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

Approaching Visit (4:18–21)

18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not going to come to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not what these arrogant people have been saying, but what they can actually do. 20 For the kingdom of God is not demonstrated by mere words, but by power. 21 What do you prefer? Should I come to you with a rod, or with love and in a spirit of gentleness?

The Incestuous Relationship (5:1– 8)

1 Now it is common knowledge that there is an illicit sexual relationship occurring among you, and such immorality is not even tolerated among the Gentiles—a man is having sexual relations with his stepmother. 2 And you are proud of yourselves! Shouldn’t you rather have been saddened and had the one who committed this act expelled from your midst? 3 For although I am physically absent, I am present in spirit, and as if I were present, I have already passed judgment 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has perpetrated such a thing. When you have met together, and my spirit is present, then with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 hand over this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your pride is not a good thing. Don’t you understand that a little yeast can leaven a whole batch of dough? 7 Purge out the old yeast so you can become a new batch of dough, as indeed you are unleavened. For even Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 8 And so let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of pure intent and truth.

Dealing with General Immorality (5:9–13)

9 I wrote to you in my (previous) letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 By no means did I mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy or swindlers or idolaters, since you would then need to depart this world. 11 But I am now writing to you not to associate with anyone who is a member, who is sexually immoral or greedy or idolatrous or verbally abusive or a drunkard or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such a person. 12 For what business of mine is it to judge people outside the church? Isn’t it those within the church that you are supposed to judge? 13 Doesn’t God judge those outside the church? Drive out the wicked person from among you.

Lawsuits among Believers (6:1– 8)

1 If any of you have a legal dispute with another, how do you have the effrontery to bring yourselves to take the matter to court before unbelievers rather than before the saints? 2 Don’t you understand that the saints will judge the world? Now if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Don’t you understand that we will judge angels, to say nothing of things pertaining to daily life? 4 So if you have legal cases dealing with ordinary matters, should you bring it before judges who have no standing in the church? 5 I am saying this to your shame. Isn’t there a single person among you wise enough to settle a dispute between members? 6 Instead, one member sues another before an unbeliever! 7 Legal disputes against each other demonstrate that you have already lost from a moral perspective. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 But instead you yourselves wrong and cheat— and you do it to fellow members at that.

The Wicked Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God (6:9–11)

9 Or don’t you understand that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t deceive yourselves; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who engage in homosexual acts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor the verbally abusive, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And some of you used to be those sorts of sinners, but you have been washed and purified and made innocent in the name of the Lord Jesus and through the Spirit of our God.

Flee Sexual Immorality (6:12–20)

12 It is said, “I can do anything,” but not all things are beneficial. “I can do anything,” but I will not be controlled by anything. 13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food. But God will do away with them both.” The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 Now God both raised the Lord and will raise us through his power. 15 Don’t you understand that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them the members of a whore? Certainly not! 16 Don’t you understand the one who is joined together with a prostitute becomes one body, for it is said, “They shall become one flesh.” 17 But one who is joined with the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality! Any other sin that a person can commit is external to his body. But one who practices sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or don’t you understand that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit that is within you, which body you have received from God? Indeed, you are not your own, 20 for you were bought for a price. So glorify God with your own body.

The Mutual Obligations of Husband and Wife (7:1–9)

1 Now regarding that which you wrote saying: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 On the contrary, because of the numerous enticements for sexual misconduct, let each man have his own wife, and each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband grant conjugal rights to his wife, and likewise the wife conjugal rights to her husband. 4 A wife does not hold exclusive rights over her own body—her husband also has rights; neither does a husband hold exclusive rights over his own body—his wife also has rights. 5 Do not deprive each other of intimate relations, except perhaps by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you can devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I’m telling you this as a concession, not as a command. 7 Now I wish everyone was like me, but each person has his own gift from God, one having one kind, another a different kind. 8 To the widowers and widows, I say it is good for them to remain even as I am. 9 However, if their desires become too strong, then they should get married, for it is better to get married than to be consumed by those desires.

Counsel on Husband and Wife Relationships (7:10–16)

10 To those who are married, I give this command—not I but the Lord— that a wife should not divorce her husband. 11 But if she does, she should remain single or become reconciled to her husband. Likewise, a husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say—I, not the Lord—if any brother has a wife who is not a believer, and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 Also, if any woman has a husband who is not a believer, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For a man who is not a believer is sanctified by his believing wife, and a wife who is not a believer is sanctified by her believing husband, otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving spouse wants a divorce, then let the divorce take place. The believing husband or wife is not under bondage in such circumstances— God has called us to live in peace. 16 Wife, how do you know whether you might save your husband, and husband, how do you know whether you might save your wife?

Fulfilling Your Calling in the Church (7:17–24)

17 Nevertheless, let each person live as the Lord has assigned him and as God has called him. And I give this same instruction in all the churches. 18 If a man was circumcised when he was converted, he should not have that surgically altered to an uncircumcised state. Likewise, if a man was uncircumcised at his conversion, he should not get circumcised. 19 Circumcision is unimportant and uncircumcision is unimportant. What matters is keeping the commandments of God. 20 Let each person continue in the calling to which he or she was called. 21 If you were a slave when you were converted, don’t let that worry you. But if you can indeed obtain your freedom, then do so. 22 For whoever was a slave when converted is the Lord’s freedman, likewise whoever was free when converted is Christ’s slave. 23 You were all bought with a price. Don’t become slaves of human masters. 24 Brothers and sisters, in whatever situation you found yourself when you were converted, there you should continue with God at your side.

To the Unmarried (7:25–28)

25 Now concerning those who have not yet married, I do not have any commandment from the Lord, but I do give my opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy. 26 Therefore, in view of the impending crisis, I think it is best for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you engaged? Don’t consider breaking the engagement. Has your engagement been broken? Don’t go looking for a wife. 28 But if you should marry, you are not committing a sin. And if an engaged woman marries, she is not committing a sin. But those who do marry will experience difficulties in this life, and I would like to spare you from those.

To Those in the Ministry (7:29–35)

29 But let me tell you, brethren, the time is short. So from now on, even those who have wives should be as though they had none. 30 Those who weep, should be as those who do not weep, those who rejoice should be as those who do not rejoice, those who buy should be as those who have no possessions, 31 and those who must deal with the world should not be completely occupied with it, for the way of life in this world is passing away. 32 But I would have you to be free from care. An unmarried man is concerned with the things of the Lord and how he might please him. 33 But a married man is concerned about the things of the world and how to please his wife, 34 and he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman, old or young, is concerned with the things of the Lord so that she might be holy both in body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned with the things of the world and how to please her husband. 35 Now I am telling you these things for your own benefit, not to hamper you, but to promote good order and undistracted service to the Lord.

Concerning Engaged Couples (7:36 –38)

36 If anyone thinks he is not treating his fiancée fairly, if she is past her prime, and he feels an obligation, let him do as he wants; he is not committing a sin. They should get married. 37 But one who stands firm in his heart, feeling no necessity, and complete freedom to choose, and has decided of his own volition to preserve his fiancée’s virginity, does well. 38 So one who marries his fiancée does well, but one who does not get married does better.

On Widows (7:39– 40)

39 A woman is bound in marriage as long as her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry whoever she wants, but only in the Lord. 40 However, in my opinion, she will be happier if she remains a widow, and I think that I have the Spirit of God.

Meat Offered to Idols (8:1–13)

1 Now concerning meat sacrificed to idols, we know that “We all have knowledge.” Knowledge makes people conceited, but love builds them up. 2 If someone thinks he has come to understand something, he does not yet understand as well as he ought to. 3 But if someone loves God, that person is acknowledged by him. 4 Returning to the topic of eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “there is no such thing as an idol in the entire universe,” and “there is no God but one.” 5 Indeed, even if there are those who are called gods, whether in heaven or on the earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6 Nevertheless, for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and in him we live; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and through whom we are. 7 But not everyone has this knowledge. And some having previously become accustomed to idols, still consider the food they eat as food offered to idols, and because their sense of right and wrong is weak, it is defiled. 8 Now food will not bring us closer to God. For if we eat it we are not any better off, and if we do not eat it, we are no worse off. 9 But be careful that your own liberty does not somehow become an obstacle for the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you, one who has knowledge, having a meal in an idol’s temple, since that person’s sense of right and wrong is weak, will he not be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So by your knowledge, a weak person is brought down to destruction, a brother or sister for whom Christ

What Does the Phrase “Wisdom of Words” Found in 1 Corinthians 1:17 Mean?

By Richard D. Draper. Adapted from Richard D. Draper and Michael Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Generally, the word translated “wisdom” (sophia) carried a very positive meaning denoting the capacity to understand and, thereby, act wisely. It also denoted knowledge that makes possible skillful activity or performance, and the accumulated philosophic, scientific, and experiential learning that includes an ability to discern essential relationships of people and things. It connoted a profound understanding of such human endeavors as philosophy, literature, and art. Though generally positive in meaning, it also connoted that which was bound to the mortal plane. Of greater concern for Paul was that it promoted worldly values. This is the sense in which Paul took it. Therefore, Paul’s phrase “wisdom of words” could be translated “cleverness in speaking,” but carrying the nuance of “manipulative rhetoric” or “tricks of speech” as used by the Sophists to beguile and catch hearers.

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Corinth, Greece.

The Apostle had already determined he would not use his skill as a rhetorician, though that would likely have appealed to the Corinthian mindset and may have given him a good hearing. But, as he said, he came “not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2:1–2). Paul fully understood that it would not do to “market the gospel as a consumer commodity designed to please the hearers and to win their approval,” one scholar noted. “Whether such a strategy would have been successful, the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ excluded its being treated as a market commodity tailored to the tastes and desires of market consumers.”[1] To have made it common or even popular would have exposed it to the will and capriciousness of the people. The result would have emptied it of its essence and stripped it of its power, a power manifest in the transforming of the human soul through the grace of Christ Jesus. No, no alteration of the message or compromise of the doctrine would do for popularity’s sake.

History has shown that the wisdom of men has failed to bring people to a united understanding of God. “The fact is,” stated President George Albert Smith, “the world through their wisdom know not God, and have lost sight of and forgotten the simplicity of our fathers, and the plainness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”[2] The truth is that it does not take a great intellect or deep training to understand either the Godhead or the Gospel. Therefore, the “weak things” are very capable of understanding and explaining both.

[1] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans), 21.

[2] Journal of Discourses, 3:25.

How Paul Came to Corinth: Acts 18

This text is excerpted from Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, pages 18, 22-25.

How Paul Came to Corinth

During the year AD 50, Paul and his companion Silas (Σιλουανός, Silouanos) revisited the cities where he had proselyted during his first mission. He then decided to push further into Asia Minor. The Spirit prompted him not to head north, so he headed west instead. At Troas, the Lord opened a vision to Paul. In it, “there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). Paul immediately made arrangements to pass over to Greece and began his work there. Within a year, he had established branches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. He then headed south to Athens.

If he thought the old capital of Achaia would produce a rich harvest, he was wrong. Athens had become a counterculture to Corinth. The once-vibrant community had stagnated. Indeed, it had become an old, decrepit, even sick city, no longer sustaining a productive and creative citizenry. Though once a bustling university town, its academic acumen had fallen, and such places as Paul’s home town of Tarsus and the up-and-coming Corinth had eclipsed it. Too staid and conservative to open its doors to new ideas, it was not a place where the Church could get any root. Little wonder Paul looked to Corinth as a more strategic center for the preaching of the gospel and as a European base for the new Church.[1] An added value was that success in this city could give the Church a good deal of cachet. As one scholar has noted, “The bustling emporium was no place for the gullible or timid; only the tough survived. What better advertisement for the power of the gospel could there be than to make converts of the pre-occupied and skeptical inhabitants of such a materialistic environment.”[2]

Here he was joined by his two companions, Silas and Timothy, and began his work.

Paul’s Social and Economic Status

Paul’s eighteen-month stay in Corinth began about March AD 50 and lasted until late September or early October AD 51.[3] The length of his stay suggests that the work went very well. Of great assistance was the hospitality of Aquila and Priscilla, two Jews already converted to Christianity. They had been forced from their home in Rome by the edict of Claudius Caesar in AD 49 that banished all Jews from the city due to contentions between them and the Christians.[4] It makes sense that these two would find their way to the Roman colony of Corinth where they once more set up shop. Though the KJV calls them “tentmakers,” the Greek word (σκηνοποιός, skēnopoios, Acts 18:3) denotes much more than tent making. It included labors dealing with animal hides and weaving hair and wool, but more particularly making leather products. Their goods could also include items for theaters and temples.[5] Thus, there was an ever-ready market for products that people with such skills could produce, and these two Jews seem to have had no trouble setting up shop and hiring laborers. Being good at the trade and a fellow Christian, Paul was readily hired.

The job helped Paul promote missionary work. As people came into the shop to purchase items or have odd jobs done, the Apostle could readily engage them in conversation and turn the topic to religion. But there was a downside to his employment. Many of the prestige-conscious Corinthians would not have been drawn to one engaged in such a menial trade. Indeed, Paul condemned some Christians for feeling smugly superior to him. He complained that they felt honorable while despising Paul and others who “labour, working with our own hands.” He was quick to note the true Christian’s proper if humble response: “being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (4:12–13).[6]

Some among the Christians would likely have preferred that Paul use his considerable skills as an orator to join the ranks of the ever-popular and highly respected sophists who generated a good deal of money and acclaim due to their speaking skills.[7] Instead, he chose to be a day laborer and for good reason. He could not afford to cheapen the word of God for self- aggrandizement even if it meant that he would not draw as many hearers from the pagans or find more acceptance from the socially conscious Christians. He adopted instead “a communicative strategy entirely at odds with the confident self-promotion of the sophist or pragmatic rhetoricism who played to the gallery.”[8] This may have forced him to spend more time making a living than he would have liked,[9] but it served to foster the correct attitude about the gospel and its message. His hope in Christ, and, ideally, that of all other Christians, should not be in gaining status in the world but pleasing God. The gospel was not about fame or power but self-sacrifice and service. It was not about finding place in this transitory, capricious, and short-lived world but finding place with God in the eternal world to come. It was not about competition leading to self-accrued glory but assisting others to a higher quality of life both in this world and the next. Pride, or as Paul calls it, being “puffed up” (4:18–19), had no place in Christ’s kingdom. Rather, the Saint needed to generate that humility that looked after and cared for others as much as self.

As a result, the gospel did not attract many of the upper class. It would be wrong, however, to view the early Corinthian Church as entirely made up of peasants and slaves.[10] Indeed, there seem to have been a number of men and women of means who were attracted to the gospel. Among these would have been Aquila, Priscilla, Erastus, Phoebe, Gaius, Stephanas, Crispus, and Quartus, all friends of Paul. Thus, the socioeconomic station of the Saints seems to have been rather mixed and produced some stratification between the “haves” and “have nots.”[11] The wealthy and well-born would have had a disproportionate influence. Paul had to fight against this by reminding the Saints that “the body is not one member but many,” and, therefore, the foot is as valuable as the hand and the ear as valuable as the eye. Indeed, “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, . . . and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (12:13–16). He further admonished them to remember that they “are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (3:16).

Paul left Corinth having had much success. Indeed, the branches there were thriving and vibrant at the time, and the work was moving apace among all socioeconomic classes. The Apostle’s choice of Corinth as the strategic center of his missionary efforts to the west had proved well founded. Even so, the Church was young and still trying to find its way as it moved into pagan lands. Its primary task was to determine what it could accept and what it had to reject among the various societies in which it was growing. As a result, Paul continually kept track of happenings there and gave the Saints instructions through a series of letters. The one covered in this volume is the earlier of the two that have been preserved.

[1] Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 108–9.

[2] Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 109.

[3] The dating of Paul’s mission was greatly assisted by the discoveries of the Delphic letter of Claudius in relation to Lucius Junius Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia during Paul’s time at Corinth (see herein 18:12–17). The letter puts Gallio in Corinth not earlier than AD 51 or later than AD 53 with the earlier date being the better. See Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 16–21.

[4] Suetonius, Life of Claudius 25.4, notes that the edict led to the expulsion of the Jews impulsore chresto, “on account of Chresto,” likely contentions between Jews and Christians over a person Suetonius identified as Chresto. Most scholars believe the word refers to Jesus since due to iotacism, Χρηστός (Chrēstos) and Χριστός (Christos) would have been pronounced the same, Christos. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 37. See also F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit (Exeter: Paternoster, 1977), 250–51, 381.

[5] BDAG, 928–29. Tents were made of cilicium (woven goat hair), the name coming from the province in which Tarsus, Paul’s home town, was found. Patristic writers used the word interchangeably with σκυτοτόμοι (scytotomoi), “leather workers.” See Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 40.

[6] See Ronald F. Hock, The Social Context of Paul’s Ministry: Tentmaking and Apostleship (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980); and especially Ronald F. Hock, “The Workshop as a Social Setting for Paul’s Missionary Preaching,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41 (1979): 438–50.

[7] See Michael A. Bullmore, St. Paul’s Theology of Rhetorical Style: An Examination of 1 Cor. 2:1–5 in Light of First-Century Greco-Roman Rhetorical Culture (San Francisco: International Scholars Publication, 1995), 212–13.

[8] Thiselton, First Epistle, 22.

[9] Paul speaks of his hard work as a laborer (4:11–12; 9:6; 1 Thes. 2:9; 2 Thes. 3:7–8; 2 Cor. 11:27). There is little doubt that he did not live high but the idea put forth by Justin J. Meggitt, Paul, Poverty and Survival (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1998), 75–97, that Paul frequently labored under extreme and harsh conditions, destitute perhaps to near starvation, seems too strong. His life was not easy, but he had good skills and many friends who supported him in his work. See Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 117–18, 261–67, for counterbalance.

[10] This is the picture developed by Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, trans. Lionel Strachan, rev. ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1927), 144.

[11] Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth, trans. John H. Schütz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 69–75.

BYU NTC Conference Saturday, January 26, 2019

“In the Beginning Were the Words: A Closer Look at Key New Testament Terms”

The BYU New Testament Commentary committee announces that on Saturday, January 26, 2019, they will present a conference at the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni Center at BYU in Provo, Utah. The conference is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 am until 4 pm. No registration is required. A video will be made of the presentations and posted on this website. Parking is available in the lot across the street to the east.

9:00 Welcome by Virginia Pearce Cowley, conducting the conference.

9:15 Eric D. Huntsman, Disciplemathētēs (μαθητής) Mathētēs is a word that John appeals to much more often than do the Synoptic Gospels. In particular, I will be stressing how John uses it for a much wider group than the Twelve, and how the different characters represent different walks of faith and different types of discipleship.

9:45 Julie M. Smith, Wayhodos (ὁδός) One of the earliest designations for the community of those who followed Jesus was “The Way.” The Greek word translated as “way,” hodos, exhibits a rich, multi-layered presence in the New Testament. In this presentation, we’ll examine the literal and figurative interplay of this word in order to gain insight into Jesus’ ministry and message.

10:15 John W. Welch, Blessed, Happymakarios (μακάριος)  Building on the treatment of the adored Beatitudes in chapter 3 of my book titled The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple (Ashgate, 2009), I shall examine how this term played a perhaps unsung but indispensable role in the Gospel of John, the book of Acts, Paul’s epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians, as well as in Revelation and elsewhere.

10:45 Break

11:00 Brent Schmidt, Gracecharis (χάρις) My earlier study of the term grace, published under the title Relational Grace, demonstrated that the original field of meaning was distorted as soon as it fell into the hands of the Christian fathers of the third and fourth centuries AD. Rather than describing a reciprocal relationship between God and believers that was undergirded by covenants, it became “cheap grace” that only depended on a passive, neo-Platonic and mysterious belief.

11:30 Richard D. Draper, Loveagapē (ἀγάπη) Of the words discussed today, the term agapē may be the most important. On it, Jesus affirmed, “hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). In his turn, Paul treated this intriguing term in the moving, beloved hymn to Charity (1 Corinthians 13). We shall probe these sources and more.

12:00 Lunch on your own, available at the Cannon Center at Helaman Halls or the food court at the Wilkinson Student Center

1:00 John Gee, Scribegrammateus (γραμμματεύς) Scribes were one of the major groups opposing Jesus during his mortal ministry. Unlike the Pharisees, however, the dogmas that they held are not clearly defined. We will explore who the scribes were and why they hated Jesus.

1:30 Michael D. Rhodes, Mysterymystērion (μυστήριον)  A word that is found 28 times in the New Testament, the overall general sense is “secret knowledge revealed by God.” The term  mystērion occurs in a single significant setting in the synoptic Gospels when Christ explains to his disciples why he taught in parables. The remaining 25 occurrences are in the book of Revelation and the writings of Paul. I will examine the various nuanced meanings found in all 28 cases.

2:00 Brent Schmidt, Faith — pistis (πίστις) The earliest occurrences of the word “faith” embrace meanings such as knowledge, faithfulness, trust, and loyalty to covenants, all concepts that involve action on the part of the possessor. But in the third century AD, all this changed. From that point on, faith was seen as an inner, passive acceptance of whatever the early church taught termed “the Rule of Faith,” which later became the authoritative and solitary sola fide. This topic will be presented in detail in a forthcoming publication.

2:30 Break

2:45 Kent Brown, Inheritance: Who Owns All That Land? — klēronomia (κληρονομία)  One of the most important terms in scripture that dates from Abraham’s era, the word “inheritance” and associated terms underwent an important change in New Testament times, moving from a transfer of real estate and other property to the reception of a spiritual home in heaven.

3:15 Panel discussion on Mark’s Gospel and Julie M. Smith’s new commentary. Panelists are today’s presenters joined by Tom Roberts.

4:00 Closing

 

Review of The Revelation of John the Apostle

We were pleased to receive this review by Duane S. Crowther, author of many books delving into LDS scriptures. You can find Crowther’s books on his website, Horizon Publishers.  

The Revelation of John the Apostle, by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, is an excellently prepared work, written and produced at a very high level of professionalism and scholarship. The 918-page book is comprehensive—it covers all the key themes of the biblical book of Revelation phrase by phrase, and when necessary, word by word. It also treats numerous pertinent details with careful explanations. The documentation is extensive, thorough and precise. Of particular value is the incorporation of pertinent historical information that adds meaning and aids the reader’s understanding of what the apostle John has written. While presenting numerous additional insights which have been made known to Latter-day Saints, the book also points out the viewpoints, finding and alternate interpretations of scholars from other faiths.

After providing the Greek text for each chapter or section of Revelation being considered, the authors cite the King James Translation and then add a “New Rendition” of each passage which restates the King James Version with additional clarity. The meaningful “Translation Notes and Comments” provide historical clues and explanations which help the reader grasp the passages’ backgrounds and allusions. Each subsection ends with an “Analysis and Summary” that clarifies what has been written from an overall perspective.

The Revelation of John the Apostle, one of the Brigham Young University’s New Testament Commentary series, is more than equal to almost all other treatises on the book of Revelation available. It’s a masterful work which deserves a place in libraries and scholars’ bookshelves worldwide.

First Corinthians

The hardcover print version of Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is now available from our publisher, BYU Studies, at https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/pauls-first-epistle-corinthians. Ebook versions are available too. The book is xvii + 908 pages, with bibliography and notes.  Click to see sample pages of the book discussion of 1 Corinthians 2, the table of contents, and the bibliography, scripture index, and general index. Questions? Call BYU Studies at 801-422-6691 or email byustudies.byu.edu. 

Revelation volume now in print

We are happy to announce that the hardcover print version of the book The Revelation of John the Apostledraperrhodesrevelation is now available for $29.99. It can be purchased through the BYU Studies website or by calling our office at 801-422-6691. The ebook is also available through the BYU Studies website in Kindle and Deseret Bookshelf app. If you have previously purchased the ebook, an update is now available through your vendor.

The book is 900 pages of commentary that explains the text phrase by phrase, using LDS doctrine and both LDS and non-LDS scholarship, going back to the original Greek. See Sample pages and the Table of Contents.

Others in this series are The Testimony of Luke by S. Kent Brown, which is available in print or ebook. The volume Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Richard Draper and Michael Rhodes, is available only in ebook at this time.