Category Archives: Michael D. Rhodes

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.

Witnesses of the Resurrection

 

by Michael D. Rhodes

In Paul’s first letter the Corinthians, he had to deal with the claim made by some of the members at Corinth that there was no resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:12). In response to this he refers to the fundamental principles of the Gospel that he had taught them: “that Christ died for our sins … that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  Paul then refers to the many people who saw the resurrected Christ. He begins with Peter, whom he calls “Cephas” (1 Cor. 15:5), which was the leading Apostle’s nickname.[1] The next witnesses Paul mentions are “the twelve [apostles]” (1 Cor. 15:5).  The New Testament confirms his point describing several occasions where Christ appeared to the apostles shortly after his resurrection (see Matt. 28:9, 18; Luke 24:15, 36-50, John 20:19-23, 26-29; 21:4-23; Acts 1:3).

Paul then refers to an appearance of Christ  “to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[2] at one time, of whom most are still alive, although some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:6, author’s translation). This remarkable appearance of Christ to such a large group of people is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. This appearance must have been similar to Christ’s appearance to the Nephites (3 Ne. 11:8–10), where men, women, and children were all present. It is notable that Paul states that most of these witnesses were still alive at the time of his writing, approximately 55 AD, more than twenty years after the event.

The next person Paul calls upon as a witness is James (1 Cor. 15:7). This is most likely James, the half-brother of Christ[3] and author of the Book of James, rather than one of the two original apostles named James.[4] Early Christian tradition maintains that it was Christ’s appearance to James that converted him.[5] James’ experience parallels rather closely the conversion of Paul himself. The event, in a revolutionary way, produced a strong conversion in both apostles.[6]

Paul then says that Christ was seen by “all the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:7). The word “apostle,” in this instance, seems to refer not only to the original members of the Twelve, whom Paul has already mentioned, but also to those who—like James, the brother of Christ; Jude; Barnabas; and perhaps others we do not know of—were ordained to the holy office of Apostle; those men who were charged with and set apart for bearing special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a final witness, Paul states, “last of all he was seen of me” (1 Cor. 15:9). The phrase “last of all,” should not be taken to mean that Paul saw himself as the last person who ever saw the risen Lord. He is rather saying that, on his list, he is the last witness he will mention. It is of note that Paul lists Peter as the first witness with himself as the last. In doing so, he ties both of them together. Of all these appearances, the most personal to Paul is, of course, Christ’s appearance to him. As President Howard W. Hunter noted:

“Thus Paul adds his personal witness, referring to his experience on the way to Damascus when he was suddenly changed from a persecutor to one of the greatest exponents. He refers to himself as ‘one born out of due time.’ . . . His dramatic change and conversion is used in his argument as the final point to prove the actual resurrection of Jesus. Paul was anxious that the saints would not only believe, but should never have the least doubt as to this basic fact upon which eternal life hinges.”[7]

Though Paul may have been able to mention more appearances of the Lord, he lists enough to defuse any idea that only a scattered few witnessed the event. Indeed, the Apostle presents “a formidable gallery of witnesses waiting to testify they that have seen [the Lord] alive.”[8] The appearance to more than five hundred Saints at one time—most of whom were still alive and could, therefore, verify the experience—was a tremendous witness to the reality of the Resurrection.

To Paul’s list of witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, Latter-day Saints also add the witness given in the Book of Mormon.  The resurrected Savior descended out of heaven and visited his faithful followers in the New World. During this visit, he taught them the gospel, healed the sick and gave blessings, instituted the sacrament, and called twelve disciples to lead the church in their land. These witnesses of the Savior provided the foundation for an era of unprecedented peace in that land.

 

 

[1] Danker, Frederick William, ed. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 544. Cephas is the Greek rendering of כֵּיפָא (kēypā’), Aramaic for “the rock,” The English transliteration of the Apostle’s nickname “Peter” comes from the Greek πέτρος (petros), which is the masculine form of πέτρα (petra), “rock,” a designation the Savior gave the fisherman the first time they met (John 1:42). Identifying the importance of this title, the Joseph Smith Translation notes that the word has reference to a “seer stone,” thus, the nickname foreshadowed Simon’s eventual Church leadership as its Seer. See also Matt. 16:18; compare D&C 10:69; 33:13.

[2] The Greek noun ἀδελφοί (adelphoi), which the King James Version translates as “brethren,” can also include females, and is here better translated as “brothers and sisters.”

[3] Galatians 1:19.

[4] Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13.

[5] Bruce, F. F. Men and Movements in the Primitive Church (Exeter: Paternoster, 1979), 86–119; see also the study by Walter Schmithals, Paul and James, trans. Dorothea M. Barton (London: SCM Press, 1965). A pseudepigraphical account of this visit can be found in Gos. Heb. §7. Jerome, vir. ill, 2, also tells the story of such a meeting.

[6] Bruce, Men and Movements, 87; compare Archibald T Robertson., and Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. 2d ed. (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1958), 338.

[7] Howard W. Hunter, in CR, April 1969, 137.

[8] Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. (Louisville, Ky.: John Knox Press, 1997), 257. See also Fee, Gordon D. First Epistle of the Corinthians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 729–30.

1 Corinthians 11:1-3

This post is an excerpt from the ebook Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. The ebook is available here, and the print version will be available by Aug. 31, 2017.

Each verse is given first in the King James Version, and then in the BYU New Testament Commentary Rendition.

11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ  / Follow my example as I myself follow Christ’s example.

This verse should probably go with the previous chapter because it makes a very strong conclusion of the point Paul made there. In that section he noted his desire to be all things to all people in order to bring them to Christ (10:32–33). This sentence marks his request for his readers to do the same. He sincerely wanted them to be μίμηται (mimētai), which is very literally, “imitators” of him, the word denoting one who follows another as a model or example of proper behavior.[1]

11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things / Now I commend you because you remember me in everything.

The word “brethren,” ἀδελφοί (adelphoi), found in the KJV, is a later addition. The earliest manuscripts do not have it and, therefore, it is left out of our Rendition.

The verb ἐπαίνω (epainō), “praise, commend,” expresses admiration for something done
well. Paul commends his readers for doing two things: First, they remembered him “in all
things.” The plural passive verb μέμνησθε (memnēsthe), “remember,” denotes not only calling someone to mind but also responding to that memory in an appropriate manner. In this context, it likely refers to prayers the Saints offered in the Apostle’s behalf.[2]

11:2b and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you / and hold fast to the traditions just as I have passed them on to you:

The second item Paul praises them for is holding fast to Church traditions. Since Paul has been castigating many of his readers, it seems a bit odd that he would here commend them. Paul could be reaching out to his audience by softening his approach in an attempt to win them to his position. Though he had reached out to them before, it seems unlikely, however, that he is doing so here. Some early and medieval commentators felt that his words were ironic, if not sarcastic.[3] Again, that is unlikely. What is more likely comes from understanding Paul’s intent here. The noun παράδοσις (paradosis), translated as “ordinance” in the KJV, denotes both content and instructions that were passed down over time through authority. Hence, though the Church was still young, the best translation of the word, in this context, would be “traditions” to give it the necessary weight of authority.[4] The verb κατέχω (katechō) denotes “adhering firmly to convictions and traditions.” In their letter to Paul, it would seem that the Corinthian Saints expressed a willingness to follow what had become a tradition in many of the branches of the Church, and this was what Paul was commending them for. The particular tradition in focus was allowing women to participate in worship services. In their letter to him, however, they raised concerns about a new development and wanted his direction.[5]

11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of
the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God / 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.

Paul’s introduction, θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι (thelō de hymas eidenai), “But I want you to
understand,” ties what he is about to say to what he has already said. Though he commends them for what they have accepted, they need to clearly understand a point that they have missed. Therefore, the coordinating conjunction δέ (de) is translated adversatively as “but.”[6] In sum, they have accepted the tradition found in other branches of the Church that women have the right to prophetic speech, “but” (de) they have missed an important principle that has contributed to the present problem.[7]
With this sentence, Paul lays down the foundation on which he will build his argument.
In doing so, he uses a word play on the noun κεφαλή (kephalē), “head,” taking it in both its literal and metaphorical senses. Literally, it denotes that part of the body in which the brain is encased and that houses the organs of sight, sound, smell, and taste. As a metaphor, however, it has a whole range of meanings. For instance, it can stand for the whole person or for someone of higher or superior rank, such as a ruler or leader. Kephalē can denote one who has preeminence. In addition, it can refer to a source, such as the “head” of a river or the progenitor of a family. Because of the semantic range of the word, precisely translating Paul’s intent presents some difficulties. To keep the ambiguity, our Rendition follows the KJV and translates kephalē simply as “head.” Nonetheless, we have chosen to explore its possible meanings.
Paul’s initial use of the word kephalē is metaphorical. From the context he most likely
used the word to indicate the preeminent or foremost nature of the subject in each case.[8] The word “preeminence” denotes that which has the highest eminence or rank due to superlativeness and uniqueness. The word does not connote, as does the word “supremacy,” the idea of unequalled superiority such that there are no equals, nor does it connote domination or autocratic power, as does the word “ascendancy.” Rather, it points to that which is distinctive above all others and, thereby, commands respect and difference, like a citizen of the Roman Empire which Paul was. It does not necessarily refer to a leader or ruler, but designates anyone holding the position of prominence or superiority in a particular situation. One who is preeminent in one instance, therefore, may not be in another.
God has preeminence over Christ who has preeminence over all men. Men, in turn, have
preeminence over women in Paul’s metaphor.[9] There is an order in the Church, that is, a
hierarchy, that determines how some practices are done and by whom.[10]
In Christ’s Church, women, especially Jewish women, enjoyed freedom and place in
Church worship as never before. Though Jewish women attended worship services in the
synagogue, they were forbidden to pray, read scripture aloud, and preach.[11] It would appear that some of the more progressive Christian women, on the other hand, began pushing the boundaries of decorum and respect. Paul pushed back, insisting that tradition dictated that certain Jewish religious norms were yet to be observed during Christian worship services.

Analysis and Summary

By way of background, in the Greco-Roman world, due to a woman’s potential of bringing great shame to her family through improper behavior and especially sexual misconduct, “women were controlled, enclosed, and guarded.”[12] That dictated not only how they were to act in public but also what they wore. Further, in this society few, either man or woman, would have raised the question of equality. “No ancient Mediterranean man,” noted one scholar, “would have ever have thought that a woman could be his equal; only a man of similar education and social status could be. Only a man could be equal to a man, a woman to a woman.”[13] The social boundaries were not to be crossed without censure. Therefore, many in society were sensitive to the breaking of social strictures in attitude, decorum, or dress. To step outside of these was considered shameful, a condition no family or social group wanted its members to be in.

Within the Christian circle, from the time of the Savior’s ministry, women had a remarkable participatory role. That Christian women could participate directly in worship service shows how far Christianity had moved from Judaism. For example, during the formal worship at the synagogue, though wives likely sat with their husbands, other than saying “amen” to prayers, blessings, and invocations, they played no direct role.[14] They did not pray aloud, read or comment on scripture, give talks, or teach. Thus, Christianity, having women do all of these, gave them not only a greater participatory role unknown within Jewish culture but also more responsibility with its accompanying recognition of their importance. It also brought with it the possibility to push religious opportunities beyond their bounds. This epistle suggests some women did so by discarding their head coverings during worship service. In Roman and Hellenistic culture, the veil or hood was important because it gave a clear indication that the wearer was a person of status and respectability. There was a direct correlation between proper dress and personal success, enjoyment of public honor, and esteem by women within the general society. Most importantly, their apparel acted as a defense, showing that the woman was neither potentially nor actually available for sexual advances. According to the poet Ovid (43 BC–AD 18), who was viewed as scandalous by many contemporaries because he advocated sexual license, men should hunt women. In his poem Ars Amatoria, or the Art of Love, women who were “available” went out to places like the theater for the express purpose to see and be seen.

But there was more going on that likely concerned Paul far more than such social mores.

In the Christian circle, as with the man’s attire, the woman’s dress could give a very distracting signal in public worship. It was especially important that it not have any sexual overtones. For a woman to go with head uncovered made a bold statement that pushed beyond Jewish protocols and, at its core, was self-advertising. The act was dishonoring, at least in part, because it took the attention of the worshipper away from where it belonged, that is, on the Lord. Because the issues Paul addresses here, unlike those in most of this letter, are based so heavily on customs and attitudes of his day rather than on more universal norms, this portion of his epistle has little application for today. This point becomes especially evident when one understands precisely the matter Paul is addressing in this pericope. Otherwise, as the breadth of scholarship shows, one can easily get side tracked or read into it issues that are not there. Paul’s concern is with “any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered.” This point is clearly made in 11:5–6, 10, 13, 15.

 


[1] Greek word identifications are from Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Ed. F. W. Danker. 3d English ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

[2] Louw-Nida §29.16.

[3] Thomas Aquinas, Super Ep. Pauli, 344, §584; Peter Lumbard in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Latina, 221 vols. (Paris: Garnier, 1844–64), 91:1629; Abrosiaster in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiastorum Latinorum, 81:252. Compare Moffatt, First Epistle, 149.

[4] Among the Greek-speaking Jews, the word referred to the teachings of the rabbis. It therefore carried the idea of authority and, with Paul, it was a tacit reminder that his instructions originated with the Divine. Friedrich Büchsel, “παράδοσις,” in TDNT, 2:172–73.

[5] Hays, First Corinthians, 181–84, makes a very good case for this position.

[6] See Fee, First Epistle, 493, who follows the NRSV, NJB, and REB.

[7] Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Sex and Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2–16,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980): 483.

[8] Thiselton, First Epistle, 821.

[9] Some translations translate the noun anēr, “man” or “husband,” in the second clause as “husband” (for example, see NRSV), but the issue here seems to be with gender relations that transcend the narrow confines of the family circle and, therefore, the Rendition translates the word as “man,” following the majority of translations (see REB, NIV, NJB).

[10] This is true in the LDS Church today. See D&C 20:68; 28:13; 58:55; 107:84.

[11] Here Paul is definitely following Jewish tradition. In certain Hellenistic cult rites, women participated freely, and this may have influenced the attitude of some of the Christian women. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law, 133–34.

[12] Osiek and Blach, Families in the New Testament Times, 40–41.

[13] Osiek and Blach, Families in the New Testament Times, 40–41.

[14] Monique Susskind Goldberg, The Meḥitzah in the Synagogue, trans. Diana Villa (Jerusalem: Schechter Institution of Jewish Studies, 2004), 14–16. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law, 134, notes that women at this time may have been seated separately in some cases but such seating became standardized only the middle ages. Further, inscriptions exit that mention women as “leaders,” “elders,” and “mothers of the synagogue,” but it is very unlikely, especially in light of the Tannaim (t. Meg. 3:11), that women actually served in liturgical capacities.

A Message to the Latter-day Saints from the Book of Revelation

By Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. This is the seventh in a series of articles extracted and edited from The Revelation of John the Apostle, volume fourteen in the Brigham Young University New Testament Commentary Series.

The real horror of the last days is not the locusts with their vicious scorpion tails or the horseman and their deadly mounts so vividly described in Revelation chapter 9. It is that there will be men and women who will live through the evil day and not be humbled, who will continue to cling to their gold and silver as though these lifeless and powerless things were gods. Thus, these people practice the most blatant form of idolatry—knowing the impotence of the works of their hands coupled with a refusal to admit their error and turn to the truth (Rev. 9:20-21).

And all this will “be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ” (D&C 77:13). The Second Coming does not usher in the millennial era. The woes pronounced by the trumpets in Revelation chapter 8 and 9 do. Let us emphasize, Christ will not appear in glory as the millennial day dawns. Instead, Satan’s inferno-created sadistic hoards and their murderous horses will (v. 18).

How long after the millennium begins will it take for the Lord to come? At the present time, “the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes” (D&C 49:7), but it will likely be sometime after the seventh seal is opened. During these last days, the faithful of God are to watch and wait, taking the time to fully prepare for what is to come. Continue reading