NT Lesson 34: Corinthians 11-16

Every so often I insert this reminder: These are study notes, not notes for a lesson. Of course, studying the chapter can help one prepare for the lesson, and the same questions used for study can be used to teach a lesson. But the primary purpose of these notes is to help people think about and prepare to talk about the Sunday School lesson.

Recall that in this part of his letter Paul is responding to questions that the Corinthians have asked him by letter. (See the questions for lesson 33.) Chapters 7-15 comprise his response to their questions, and one problem we have interpreting his response is knowing when he is quoting their letter and when he is speaking as himself. For example, in chapter 10, verse 23 (and also in 6:12) Paul says “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient.” Many scholars have argued that when he says “all things are lawful for me,” he is not saying something that he believes. Instead, he is quoting from things that some in Corinth have said and to which he must respond. Some at Corinth seem to have reasoned, “I am made free from the law by Christ’s sacrifice, so I can do anything I want.” In that case, the second part of the verse, “not all things are expedient (or ‘profitable,’ something we should do),” is Paul’s response to their misunderstanding. (Notice how the JST recognizes the problem and makes sense of the passage.)

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