Showing posts from July, 2015

Day 14: 2 Corinthians 2:14–3:18

It’s day 14 of our 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge and things took a weird turn. As you can see by the title of this post, we’re staring Paul’s second letter to the followers of The Way of Jesus in Corinth. However, for some reason that I can’t seem to figure out, we’re reading 2 Corinthians 2:14–3:18, instead of the first couple of chapters. I suppose the belief is that this section was written first (?) since we’re supposed to be reading these chronologically. That doesn’t make sense to me, but there it is nonetheless. So, let’s get to it!
Starting at the beginning of chapter 3, Paul talks about the two different covenants; the two different ministries. One covenantal ministry brought death and the other brought life. Paul states that the ministry that brought death was written on stone tablets but the ministry that brought life is written on hearts (3.1-6). This is an obvious reference to the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. He even says as much in verse 14, “But their minds wer…

Day 13: 1 Corinthinas 15–16

As we continue our 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge, we’re finishing off 1 Corinthians with chapters 15 and 16. Let’s get to it!
As we know, chapter 15 is the most concise teaching we have from Paul or anyone else on the resurrection. For some it’s one of the most challenging. So, let’s try and break it down.
First, what does Paul mean by the word “resurrection”? Some think he was talking about a spiritual (i.e., non-material) being; that Jesus didn’t have a material body but was some sort of spirit energy. Others think that the apostles and others were so distraught from Jesus’ death that their emotions got the better of them and they started seeing things. Others contend that they just meant a new sense of G‑d’s presence within their hearts. Others believe that Jesus was resuscitated. That is, he died (or was really close to death) but was brought back to life. Can you imagine Jesus coming to his followers after he’d been beaten nearly to death by the Romans and trying to convince th…

Day 10: 1 Corinthinas 9–10

It’s day ten of our 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge and we’re reading chapters 9 and 10 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian followers of The Way of Jesus. So let’s dig in!
In this first section, Paul’s saying that we should share our resources.
Yep, Paul talks over and over about how a farmer plants a vineyard and should get to eat the fruits it produces; of how a soldier doesn’t join the army and pay for his own way, the military does that; of how shepherds get the milk from their flock. He says all of this to say, “the one who plows and the one who threshes should each do so with the hope of sharing the produce” (9.10). In other words, what we work for shouldn’t be seen as ours only.
Indeed. That’s harsh. What would our parishes and congregations look like if we practiced this? I bet they’d be pretty small. At first. I think that the wrong people would leave and the right people would show up and stay. If we came into this family knowing that we were expected to s…

Day 12: 1 Corinthinas 13–14

Last time, in our 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge, we ended with Paul telling us that he would show the Corinthian followers of The Way of Jesus a “way of life that’s best of all” (1 Corinthians 12.31; NLT*). Today, we see what that is!
Often referred to as the “Love Chapter,” I’m sure many of us have heard or read 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings. But, to me, that misses Paul’s point. Paul isn’t referring to romantic love in this chapter. Paul insists that love — the type of Love that is G‑d — is the foundation of everything. Whether it’s speaking or having visions and understanding mysteries or even giving one’s life for someone else, if whatever we do isn’t based in G‑d’s Love, then it’s a wasted effort.
A number of years ago, I conducted an experiment. It wasn’t a very deep experiment, but it was life changing, to say the least. Taking 1 John 4.8 as my foundation, “G‑d is love,” I exchanged the word “love” in verses 4-8 for the word “G‑d.” Here’s a loose rendering of those verses:

Day 11: 1 Corinthinas 11–12

In our continued 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge, we’re now at chapters 11 and 12 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian followers of The Way of Jesus. So, let’s begin!
In the beginning of chapter 11, Paul talks a lot about the proper attire for community worship — women should cover their heads when they pray or prophesy and men shouldn’t (vv. 1-16). And there have been a lot of traditions that take this passage to heart; well, the women not cutting their hair part. But, this was a cultural issue — not an eternal one (verse 16).
What astounds me, though, is that some traditions seem to overlook the crucial piece — women praying and prophesying in public worship! A lot of those same traditions that believe women shouldn’t cut their hair also believe that women shouldn’t be “over” men, i.e., have any kind of authority. Therefore, praying and prophesying is left only for the men folk. In other words, they get very caught up in the non important bits and miss the important bits (Matthe…