Preaching Outline 1 Corinthians 12:1 – 14:40
I have been considering the need for these messages and have been much in prayer for the Lord’s leadership as to when to begin this series. Now is the time and I pray that we will pay close attention to God’s Word and receive the messages that He intends for us to apply to our lives.
I will not be preaching through the entire letter, but will present background information and then will focus on chapters twelve through fourteen, beginning with background information on the ministry of the Gospel and the purpose of this first letter from Paul to the church in Corinth. The background information is found in the book of Acts, beginning with chapter sixteen.
I. Founding of the church in Corinth explained.
Acts 16:6 – 18:4
A. Following the Lord. Acts 16:6-11
Acts 16:6-11 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
God will set up roadblocks in order to keep us going in the direction He will have us to go. Paul did not get discouraged and turn back to where he had come from, but continued on seeking God’s leadership, going away from where he had been. We see early in the ministry, Paul had a desire to accomplish that which he wrote to the Corinthians years later in his second letter –
2 Corinthians 10:16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.
God did not leave the missionaries to follow their own understanding, but gave them specific direction which would keep them on their course in times of great difficulty –
B. Faced with opposition. Acts 16:12 – 17:34
1. Imprisoned in Philippi. Acts 16:12-40
Acts 16:12-40 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks….
The Lord interceded for them and they, being released from prison, encouraged the believers and continued their journey –
2. Threatened in Thessalonica. Acts 17:1-9
Acts 17:1-9 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar…
3. Pursued to Berea. Acts 17:10-14
Acts 17:10-14 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
4. Opposed in Athens. Acts 17:15-34
Acts 17:15-34 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
It is no wonder that following all of this, we find him –
C. Fearful in Corinth.
1. The city of Corinth.
a. “40 miles Southwest of Athens, Corinth was the capital of the province of Achia and had a population of 500,000. Julius Caesar, recognizing the importance of the Isthmus as a military and mercantile position, sent thither a colony of Italians, who were chiefly freedmen. This new establishment rapidly increased by the mere force of its position. Within a few years, it grew from nothing to an enormous city”. Coneybeare and Howson, pg 326, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul.
b. Crossroads of travel and commerce for all points. It boasted of two seaports, one on each side of the isthmus.
1). It was not a centre of intellectualism, like Athens, but was a trading centre with a cosmopolitan population.
2). The city was overseen by the goddess Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The temples were full of prostitutes and the city had a thriving night life.
3). The city had a stadium which hosted contest every two years and was second only to the Greek Olympics.
Imagine if you will, this city dedicated to the pursuit of prosperity and enjoying of worldly pleasures, teeming with activity and this missionary, now traveling alone, entering into this hive of activity, knowing no person, but led by God with the message of hope, the message of help, that these people did not know that they needed nor had any desire to hear –
2. The record of his emotional condition at this time.
1 Corinthians 2:1-3 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
Through all of this he saw, and we see, as always that –
D. Faithful is the Lord.
1. Note that God did not deceive Paul about his ministry.
Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
2. God promised to be with him throughout his ministry.
Acts 18:9-10 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
We often find ourselves in the same position as these men to some degree. We have the desire to follow the Lord’s command and share His gospel with others, but we seem to lack direction. Keep moving forward in unknown and even uncomfortable territory.
When we speak, we are blessed that some will listen and even turn to the Lord for salvation, but most will ignore the truth and even some will tell us to leave them alone, and leave others alone, chasing us away.
We must apply this same encouragement from the Lord to our lives today “…be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace…”