THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE
Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 1-2
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Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God…And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
Athens, where Paul preached his famous sermon on Mars Hill, was very different from Corinth. In Athens, he did use “excellence of speech” as he debated the philosophers (Acts 17:16-34). In today’s reading Paul has moved about 40 miles south to the largest city of Greece, Corinth. Athens was the intellectual centre. Corinth was the commercial centre. Because of its location on a very narrow strip of land between the Adriatic and Aegean Seas, almost all shipping to the eastern regions of the Roman Empire passed through Corinth in order to avoid the dangerous trip around the southern peninsula. A canal was dug in 1893 for the ships, but back in the first century A.D. it took at least a week to haul the ships on rails or great wagons up and over to the opposite Sea. Meanwhile thousands of sailors, government officials, military personnel, businessmen, etc. would have a week of leisure. Paul, who financed his mission here by making tents, would’ve had no trouble selling everything he made to accommodate the travelers. It has been estimated that there were at least 5,000 prostitutes in Corinth.
I wrote the above in order to set the stage for Paul’s ministry, which will unfold for us as we continue over the next few days to read and consider these two letters from Paul to Corinth. The intellectual discourse of Athens would not get a hearing there. Demonstration of the Spirit and of power was absolutely essential in order to get anyone’s attention for the preaching of the Gospel. I’m way over 100 words….sorry.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord Jesus, just as Paul had to understand the cities in which he communicated Your message, help me to understand the people and places where I live and witness for You. Please show me when and how to make Your case for believing in You. In Your Name I pray. Amen!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
I’ve been asked how I decide which books of the Bible come next. Back in the 60’s and 70’s I read the Bible from cover to cover once a year, three chapters a day and five on Sunday. I encouraged others to do the same. Our ministry published study guides which were ordered by readers in advance. I discovered that by the time we reached Joshua, almost 80% of those who started with me had dropped out. In the 80’s and 90’s I moved our readings to two years through the Bible, moving from the Hebrew Scripture to the Greek, with alternate books for variety and balance between the Old and New Testaments. Approximately 80% of those who started with me in the new reading program ordered the materials and completed the entire Bible. These publications are out of print now, so I’ve moved into the brave new world of cyberspace just for you!!!
Yours for God’s gift of sanctified stubbornness in not giving up, (Oh yes, Doreen, we’ll be back in 1 Samuel after we finish 2 Corinthians, God willing!)