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Bible Study for Jehovah's Witnesses: 1 CORINTHIANS

Does Jehovah Have A 'Clean Organization'?


1:1 What is Paul concerned to establish first? (4:1-21, esp. vv. 9,15-17)
All doctrinal teaching must ultimately rest upon the credibility of the teacher, and so Paul's pattern is to establish his apostolic credentials at the beginning of his epistles (KEY: Authority; cf. Rom. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1; Tit. 1:1) Exceptional are the personal note to Philemon and the letters to the Philippian and Thessalonian churches, where local needs apparently demanded no assertion of his apostolic authority. Yet unlike Watchtower leaders, Paul does NOT assert that his authority derives from his "anointing". Rather, see how Paul views the nature of HIS authority in 9:1 – Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen our Lord?

1:2 What is the standing of the Christians in Corinth?
Their "sainthood" depended upon neither Papal decree nor peculiar holiness of walk, but solely upon their calling. The Greek verb (hegiasmenois) asserts that their "saintliness" is accomplished already, having been sanctified. This holiness, then, is not in their own persons, but in Christ Jesus.

What is the essential UNITY of all Christians "in every place"?
Joel plainly states that only those who call on the name of Jehovah will be saved (2:32, NWT). This is the Watchtower's flimsy justification for inserting Jehovah into Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13, which adding to scripture is defensible neither from Greek manuscript evidence nor contextually. In both texts the Lord is plainly Jesus Christ (see notes on Acts 2, Romans 10). Here in 1 Corinthians, even NWT translators cannot evade the clear context: it is the name of our LORD, Jesus Christ, their LORD and ours, whom all [Christians] everywhere call upon.
>>Witnessing tip: Point out that, according to Paul, the NAME JESUS is what unified the early church.

1:3-5 To what do the Corinthians owe such peace, enrichment, speaking ability and knowledge as they have already?

1:6-7 Did the witness about the Christ (NWT) leave the Corinthians with less "light" than modern-day "Jehovah's Witnesses"?
Compare Acts 9:15; 26:14-18 (NWT).

1:8-9 What was the hope of the Corinthians, and how sure (firm, NWT) was this hope? (cf. v.7; Rom.5:2; 8:29,30; 1 John 3:1-3; Heb. 2:10)

1:10-16 Was the disunity in Corinth a sure evidence they were NOT in the true religion? (compare vv. 2,7,26-30; 3:1-4)
KEY: Unity The divisions evident in Corinth were a sign of spiritual immaturity; young believers (and the great majority of converts in Corinth had been Christians less than 5 years - see Acts 18) not taking seriously the truths they should have cherished and fed upon. Therefore the evident divisions (and other problems) were evidence of spiritual sloth among the Corinthians themselves; neglect OF, not neglect BY, their spiritual shepherds (cf. 2:6; 3:1-4; 4:1-4; Gal. 5:19-21). The problem has not changed: Christians are still disunited, but the cause is rather ignorance of God's teachers, not those teachers' ignorance.

1:17-25 What was the focus of Paul's "foolish" gospel, the good news which is both the power and the wisdom of God? (esp. vv. 18,23,24; cf. v.30)
Compare Paul's acid comments about the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18-19) who have their minds upon things on the earth (NWT), in contrast with Christians, whose citizenship exists in the heavens (Phil. 3:20, NWT; cf. Eph. 2:5,6).

1:26-31 Did the first Christians boast in earthly things?
Though Christ promised his followers they would inherit the earth, he didn't want them to invest their hearts in treasures upon earth, but rather treasures in heaven (Matthew 5:5; 6:19-21).

2:1-2 With what does Paul associate the sacred secret of God (NWT)?
Not only is the testimony (margin, mystery) of God (NAS) bound up with Jesus Christ, but the proclaiming is of the crucified Christ, not a "Christ" ruling since 1914. The substance of the Watchtower's Finished Mystery, however, as the Society boasted at the time (1917), was fundamentally the same message as Jehovah's Witnesses message today -- Christ returning invisibly (but in 1874), and appointing a "faithful and discreet slave" (Charles T. Russell, however, not the 144,000 as the Watchtower teaches today).

2:3-5 On what does Paul's authority as a preacher of the gospel rest?

2:6-10 How only can God's hidden wisdom (v.7) become known to men?
All the reasoning of the ancient world's greatest minds, including Socrates, Plato and Aristotle -- sons of that very Greece where the Corinthians dwelt -- did not enable it to find the true God (cf. 1:21; 1 Tim. 6:20,21; Col. 2:8,9). Rather, it is only by an accurate knowledge of the sacred secret of God, namely Christ, that men may find carefully concealed ... all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge (Col. 2:2,3, NWT). Such wisdom, from the very depths of God (v.10, NAS), can only be searched out and revealed by the Spirit.
>> Witnessing tip: Point out that the Spirit of God, not the reasoning power of men, is the revealer of truth (don't press the issue of the Spirit's person – just His role in revelation. The rest the Spirit will reveal in His own time, just as He did in the first century church. Then, as now, it was the Spirit's pleasure – and the Father's – to glorify Christ (John 16:14).

2:11 Does God's Spirit possess the attribute of consciousness? (cf. v.13)
This verse, at a single stroke, destroys the Watchtower's theology [doctrine of God] and anthropology [doctrine of man]. For if the spirit of man that is in him (NWT) knows anything, it can hardly be an impersonal force. So too the spirit of God knows the things of God (NWT), searches into all things, even the deep things of God (v.10, NWT) and is therefore omniscient [all-knowing] and therefore is God.
>> Witnessing tip: Again, let the text do its work, without pushing the Trinitarian "proof" too hard. God is more patient than we are with the immature saints (such as the Corinthians), who are, after all, born again, if still "babes" (see 3:1,2). Do we think He is less patient with those who, like the JW's, don't even profess to be "born again"!

2:12-16 Why is it folly to preach Christian dogma (e.g. the Trinity) to an unsaved man?
Nay, let us speak more boldly. We may even be committing folly in presenting the depths of God (2:10) to many Christians! (cf. 3:1-3; Heb. 5:12-6:1,2)

3:1-4 Do jealousy and strife (v.3), or even sectarianism (v.4), necessarily disqualify one's claim to be in Christ? (see 1:10-16)
Though Paul calls the Corinthians fleshly men (vv. 1,3) he still considers them brothers (v.1; cf. beloved children, 4:14).
>> Witnessing tip: They are not, as the cults would have it, "imitation" or pseudo- Christians, but merely immature Christians, babes in Christ (v.1).

3:5-9 Considering Paul's illustration of the field, when should we expect full maturity (and harmony) among Christians?
Compare Matthew 13:24-30,36-43, esp. v.41; 1 Cor. 13:9-12; Eph. 4:11-16 provides an analogy, the growth of the body.

3:10-15 If a Christian fails to build his life upon the foundation of Christ (v.11), what loss will he face? (note even the extreme case of 5:5)
Though it often happens that a babe in Christ (v.1) refuses to grow up, he cannot lose his God-given relationship among the beloved brethren (15:58) who are, by adoption, God's sons (Rom. 8:14-17). "Babes" may end up, according to the futility of their labours, unrewarded, but they cannot end up unborn (vv.8,15).

3:16-17 What other comparison brings home the majesty of the Christian's calling? (cf. vv. 9-12)
Our works either adorn or disfigure God's temple -- in this life. But nothing that is not built upon Christ will survive the purging fire of Christ's judgment (vv. 13,15; cf. Rev. 22:1-2,10-27, esp. v.27).

3:18-23 With what does Paul classify the "reasonings of the wise"? (v.20)
Compare C.T. Russell's starting point ("... let us examine the character of the writings claimed as inspired, to see whether their teachings correspond with the character we have reasonably imputed to God ..." Charles Taze Russell The Divine Plan of the Ages (1886) p.41, emphasis added).

4:1-5 When does Paul expect to be vindicated as Christ's faithful (trustworthy, NAS) Steward?
KEY: Faithful and discreet slave. It is worthy of note that Paul does not consider himself, nor his companions Sosthenes (1:1), Apollos (3:5), Cephas [Peter] (3:22) or Timothy (4:17), as components of some "faithful steward class", but as individual servants of Christ ... stewards of the mysteries of God (v.1). Though some among the Corinthians sought to evaluate Paul's credentials as a steward (v.3), the apostle does not press upon them the need to accept his authority BEFORE the Lord's coming in judgment (v. 5; contrast the claims of the Watchtower "faithful and discreet slave" -- see notes on Matt.24:45). Apparently Paul doesn't care if the Corinthians ever accept his authority, so long as the Lord (not Jehovah, NWT) finds him faithful (v.4).

4:6-13 Contrast the circumstances -- and attitude -- of the apostolic "governing body" with the Watchtower counterfeit (esp. vv. 11, 12).
Besides the external conditions of their respective situations, note the contrast of attitude in the face of opposition, even persecution: when being reviled, we bless ... when being defamed, we entreat (vv. 12,13, NWT). May we expect a revised NWT? To wit, when being challenged, we revile ... when being entreated, we defame. A worthy goal for ex-JWs: when we are slandered, we try to conciliate (v. 13, NAS).

4:14-20 Though the body of Christ was divided in Corinth, what hope of unity remained for Paul's "beloved children"? (esp. v. 17; cf. 7:17; 11:2,16; 14:33)

4:21-5:2 Does the failure of the Corinthians to mourn over this scandalous immorality indicate that they didn't have the Holy Spirit?
Though Christians may grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30; cf. Isa. 63:10) yet Christ has begged the Father that He [the Helper] may be with you forever and promised He abides with you, and will be in you (John 14:16,17; cf. 1 Cor. 3:16).

5:3-5 What is Paul's view of the nature of man? (cf. 6:16-20; 7:34)
Clearly Paul views the destruction of the flesh as the just punishment for major sin – but does NOT even contemplate "everlasting punishment" for the offender (at least not for the offender in Christ)

5:6-13 Did "disfellowshipping" in the first century imply total termination of communication?
Compare 2 Thess. 3:6-15, esp. vv. 6,14,15. And note there whose authority the "disfellowshipped" have rejected.

6:1-8 What is implied by v.3 as to our individual responsibility?


6:9-11 Despite their lax and "tolerant" attitudes toward intolerable blots on the name of Christ, what is Paul still able to say about the Corinthians' religious and legal standing before God? (cf. 15:58)
The Watchtower often quotes vv. 9 and 10 as if Paul were threatening believers. Yet plainly it is the blurring of the moral line between church and world which had potential to deceive the Corinthians. Paul reminds them (v.11) that true conversion results in moral transformation, as their own lives could testify. Nevertheless, despite moral lassitude, lawsuits among brethren, strife, jealousy, divisions, arrogant defiance of apostolic authority (4:18) and carnal tendencies (3:1-3, KJV), these "babes in Christ" have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 11, NWT).

6:12-16 How does Paul choose to shepherd the Corinthians -- by laying down law, or by teaching truth from principle and example? (cf. 7:6,25,26,35,40; 8:9,13; 9:6,7,11,12,15,18,19,27)

6:17-20 By the analogy of human marriage (v.16) how does Paul make vivid the secret of the Christian's holiness? (cf. 3:16-17)
Compare Paul's more extended discussion of this parallel, Eph. 5:22-33.

7:1-9 Is singleness for the purpose of "constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction" (v.35, NWT) a viable option for all Christians? (esp. v.7; cf. vv. 17,39-40)
Paul seems to be reflecting on Matt. 19:10-12 -- see vv. 10,12,25. Contrast the Watchtower's counsel re "the last days", where even married couples are advised not to have families (despite the universal command of Genesis 1:28).

7:10-24 Should the Christian ever initiate the breakup of a marriage, even with an unbeliever? (cf. vv. 39-40)
See how Paul emphatically denies that the conversion of either mate lessons the responsibility of the Christian to adhere to his/her marital commitment (esp. vv. 12,13). The termination of the marriage is an option open only to the unbeliever.
>> Witnessing tip: You may want to connect this marital standard with the unconditional nature of God's commitment in Hosea 3, and indeed with the unconditional status of the Corinthian "baby" saints!

7:25-35 Does Paul anywhere link the single person's freedom to serve the Lord with liberty to preach? (esp. vv. 32,34)
The single person's concern about the things of the Lord is linked to holiness in body and spirit (v.34), not any specific activity. Unfortunately J.F. Rutherford found this New Testament emphasis unpalatable, as well as totally incompatible with his militant sales emphasis. Rutherford heaped abuse on the remnant of Russell's following, who stressed "character building"; indeed, for many years Rutherford forbade articles about love, kindness and other New Testament emphases in Watchtower publications, so completely did the second president wish to distance "his" organization from its founder, who had dared to place "character building" above preaching. After Rutherford's death, the Watchtower started reinserting such articles in publications, calling this aspect of discipleship "putting on the new personality" instead of "character development". As Raymond Franz sums up this doublethink – and double reverse – "a distinction without a difference". – see R. Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, pp. 145-151.
>> Witnessing tip. Challenge the Witness to find a single reference to the supposed Christian responsibility of preaching in ALL of 1 Corinthians.

7:36-38 Here is one example of advice that is obscured by its local reference, or simply by the passage of time and paucity of background information. Such biblical dark spots need not trouble the Christian -- obscure passages do not demand an interpreter; the Bible speaks clearly on matters pertaining to salvation!
See note on Acts 8:30,31. This Acts passage is snatched out of context by virtually all JW's in order to justify the need for an "official" interpreter, viz. The Watchtower.

7:39-40 On what question does Paul base His advice on remarriage?


8:1-3 What problem was unbalanced emphasis upon "knowledge" causing in Corinth? (13:8-13)
Sobering indeed! Knowledge makes arrogant (NAS), knowledge puffs up (NWT) All cults resurrect the Gnostic mindset -- pride in a higher knowledge not possessed by lesser mortals, and completely at variance with lowliness of Christ, who claimed to know even more than Jehovah's Witnesses (though not, significantly, about everything; cf. John 2:24,25; 6:64; contrast Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:7, where Christ seems to claim less knowledge about Jehovah's Witnesses' favourite subject than two "puffed up" presidents of The Watchtower Society!)

8:4-6 If v.6a logically demands that Jesus Christ cannot be God, what conclusion must follow equally logically from 6b?

8:7-13 According to Paul's priorities, should "knowledge" separate Christians?
Even the Christian with superior spiritual insight (actual, versus assumed) is sinning against the brethren (v.12) by his contemptuous, unfeeling attitude toward those he views as ignorant (or at least immature). Lack of knowledge, then, will not ruin the immature. But lack of love might (v.12). Christ died not only for the immature, but even for the ungodly ... sinners ... enemies (v.11; Romans 5:6,8,10)

9:1-2 What attitude does Paul display toward those who challenge his apostolic credentials?
KEY: Authority Paul doesn't seem to feel the need to disfellowship those who disagree with him. Rather than impugn their motives, he sets out his defence (v.3, Gk. apologia).

9:3-15 Rather than give occasion to his critics to accuse him of profiting financially from the gospel, what is Paul willing to forego?
The apostle's opponents went so far as to claim that Paul exploited his converts for profit. Rather than engage in profitless debate over his motives, Paul refuted the accusation by his exemplary labours, both in teaching and in self-support -- Acts 18:3,4,11; 20:17-20,31-35; 2 Cor. 11:7-12,23,27. Paul laboured even more than all the apostles, that he might not be classed among the peddlers of the word of God as many men are (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 2:17, NWT).
>> Witnessing tip: Ask the Witness whether their governing body, or even travelling overseers (= bishops), have jobs to support themselves. Contrast – with mildness – the Apostle's example as THE biblical model for us (1 Cor. 11:1).

9:16-18 Who is under compulsion to preach the gospel? (4:1,2,15)

9:19-23 What is the chief qualification (humanly speaking) of a preacher of the gospel?
Define empathy

9:24-27 What anti-Christian tendency does Paul's advice on self-control combat? (v.31; cf. 6:19,20)
The divine demand is unchanging: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37; Deut. 6:5). All religion that attempts to barter for easier terms is paganism.
>> Witnessing tip: Ask the Witness which commandments must he keep to get eternal life.

10:1-4 To what ever-present temptation do the Corinthians seem to have succumbed? (cf. vv. 16-17,21,31; 11:20,23-29)
The church, like Israel of old, can easily persuade itself that God is satisfied with ritual observance -- a form of bartering with God (see 9:24-27; cf. Isaiah 1; esp. vv. 10-17). But if we are God's servants, we owe Him nothing less than total obedience (Luke 17:5-10). And if we are God's sons then it behooves us to image our Father faithfully at all times (Gen. 1:26,27; 5:1,3).

10:5-11 Did sacramental "baptism" and "eucharist" save Israel from the consequences of their idolatry and immorality?
Nor were they saved from the consequences of their covetous appetites and carping, grumbling, unthankful attitude: The national "baptism" at the Red Sea, and the supernatural "table" which nourished Israel through its entire wilderness journey, should have increased and fed faith; but, as today, natural sacrament is useless without the supernatural transformation of the heart (Jer. 31:31-34).
>> Witnessing tip: Inquire as to whether the Witness has experienced the New Covenant change prophesied in the above passage of Jeremiah. If he says no, indicate to him that in that case he is still under the curse of the law (Rom. 5:20; 7:1-17; James 2:10-13 – if we break ONE commandment we've broken the whole Law – that's how HOLY God is!)

10:12-22 How may trusting in "sacramental grace" actually "provoke the Lord to jealousy"?
See Malachi 1:6-14; Micah 6:6-8. The Witnesses have contempt for what they consider "Catholic" sacramentalism. Yet their own emphasis on outward performance – their peculiar sacraments being "field service" (Watchtower distribution) and regular meeting attendance – are simply the modern equivalent for Judaism's ritualism condemned as commandments of men (Matthew 15:1-9).

10:23-30 Were the Corinthians under restriction as to eating non-kosher meats?
It is interesting that the above passage in Matthew is followed immediately by the words of Christ regarding what defiles a man coming from inside, not outside himself (Matthew 15:10-20).

10:31-33 Was God glorified or offended by such liberty of conscience?
Compare Romans 14, esp. vv. 13-17.

11:1-2 What is Paul's view of church tradition? (cf. v.16; 7:17; 14:33-37)
See 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6. It is not tradition that Jesus objects to, but the tradition of the Pharisees and scribes. (Matt. 15:1-14, esp. v.6; Mark 7:1-23). See the tract Paradise or Paradosis for further discussion.

11:3 What is the distinction between essential and positional equality?

11:4-16 Some Corinthians were challenging church tradition. Does the principle of headship imply woman is essentially inferior to man?
In contrast with the Christian freedom Paul grants in the area of foods (10:23-33), here the apostle lays down principles of universal application, since they have roots in the order of creation (vv. 7-9,14). Woman's submission to male authority no more makes her inferior to man than the angels' service of the saints make them inferior to man (vv. 7-12; Heb. 1:13,14; 2:5-7,9). Neither, even more tellingly, does Christ's service of believers make Him "less than" them (John 13:12-17; Matt. 20:20-28).

11:17-19 Though Paul deplores the disunity in Corinth, does he think it disqualifies their Christian profession? (cf. 1:10-16; 6:1-8)
Notice the effective softening of his pointed counsel by the warmth of the manner of address -- brethren (1:10; 2:1; 3:1,6; 5:11; 6:6-8; 7:12,24; 10:1).

11:20-28 Does the Corinthian abuse of the Lord's table indicate it was an infrequent event? (esp. v.26)

11:29-34 What is the judgment facing a Christian who fails to discern the Lord's body?
Paul draws a marked contrast between the judgment even such guilty brethren bring on themselves (cf. vv. 27,33) and the condemnation of the world. Though God's judgment of the sinning Christian may indeed be drastic, yet it is essentially redemptive and exemplary (cf. v.30 and 5:5; see also the contrast of corrective and punitive judgments in Israel's case, Jer. 10:24,25; 30:11).

12:1-3 What is the basic message of the Holy Spirit?
See Rom. 10:9; John 15:26; 16:13-15; 7:39.

12:4-6 Though the Trinity is not explicitly taught in the New Testament, what pattern of thought is unselfconsciously automatic with Paul? (cf. v.3)
See 2 Cor. 3:3,14-18; 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; Phil. 2:1,11

12:7-11 According to whose will are the spiritual gifts distributed among believers? (cf. vv. 6,18)
Note the absurdity it wills (v.11) in NWT.

12:12-14 Is the body one or many?

12:15-27 Must all members of the church have (or develop) like gifts?
Foot, hand, ear, eye -- all have a useful function to play in the outworking of Christ's work in "the body." It is worth remarking that even the mouth gets no exalted status! (James 3:1-12)

12:28-31 Since the Spirit has distributed gifts among believers just as He wills (v.11, cf. v.18), of what would those be guilty who despised or neglected the gifts in men God provides? (meditate on the significance of chapter 13 in this context)
See Romans 9:19,20; Eph. 4:7,8,11-16,30.

13:1-2 All the talk -- and knowledge -- in the universe will not witness nearly as effectively as which gift of the Spirit? (note vv. 9,12)
The divine kind of love (agape, Gk.) loves its enemies, blesses those who give back curses, and does good toward and prays for those who hate and persecute in return (Matt. 5:44). Those who love after this example are true children of the Father (Matt. 5:45). All other types of "love" even Satan's servants are able to summon (vv. 46,47).
>> Witnessing tip: Ask the JW whether he is encouraged to pray for those who "persecute" JW's – namely apostates and government officials.

13:3 Even a life -- and death -- of sacrifice is futile, if not generated by the love of God. Who only have the capacity for such agape? (clue v.12)
It is those who have the hope of the glory of God, which hope does not disappoint, who have the love of God poured out within their hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:2,5).

13:4-7 How do Jehovah's Witnesses measure up the divine standard of love?
If you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect
be the measure, JW's (and all of us) are without hope (Matt. 5:43-48). However, Christians make no claim to be "doing his will", but rather rest on the grace of God (see the last page of Live Forever, where the Watchtower's bottom line is plainly stated: "You MUST be a part of Jehovah's organization, doing God's will ...", emphasis added).
>> Witnessing tip: Ask the JW, "How MUCH of God's will must one do to get through Armageddon?" But if "you MUST" is the standard, then surely "doing God's will" is not merely performance of certain distinctives (e.g. door-to-door evangelism, utilizing the name Jehovah) cannot be the test, as Christ gave a higher test: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and you shall love your neighbour as yourself (Matt. 22:37-40). Thus love – divine love at that – is the test of Christian discipleship, and as was already pointed, such love is poured into our hearts by the Spirit (Rom. 5:5). That agape love, therefore, is only available to those who are indwelt by the Spirit (by Watchtower definition, only the 144,000).

13:8-13 How will those fare who put faith in their preaching exploits, or rely on "accurate knowledge" to please God? (8:1-3)

14:1-6 What was the primary function of the speaking "gift" which Paul encourages the Corinthians to seek? (vv. 4,5,12,17,22; 12:7)

14:7-11 Would you say that The Watchtower has uttered "speech that is clear" for the past 4 generations? (v.9)
Compare James 3:8-12. The Watchtower's "tricky tongue" has left a legacy of disappointed hopes and squandered lives (see Zeph. 3:13, NWT). Like Jeremiah's rival Hananiah, Watchtower leaders have made this people trust in a lie (Jer. 28:15). Hananiah perished for his outright revolt against Jehovah (vv. 16,17, NWT).

14:12-19 Four times the NWT translators have added to Jehovah's word in this single passage. Why such desperate deception? (see v.32, compare NAS)
Determined to evade the clear inference that Paul conceived his spirit, just as much as his mind, to be conscious and personal, The Watchtower leaders have brought upon themselves the worst judgment conceivable -- the curses written in Revelation! (Rev. 22:18,19) Not least of these curses is the eternal punishment of the Lake of Fire, reserved for liars who pervert God's Word (Rev. 21:8; 22:15; cf. Prov. 30:5,6).

14:20-25 What kind of message will cause the unbelievers to cry "God is really among you!"?
Will false prophecy and doctrinal flipflops, any more than unintelligible tongues, convince the world Jesus Christ and Jehovah are among JW's? Will they not say that you are mad? (v.23, NWT)

14:26-31 What impression do these verses give of the structure of church meetings in the first century?

14:32-40 How often have we heard The Watchtower use v.33 to justify their insistence upon "one true religion"! But what is the CONTEXTUAL application of Paul's exhortation to peace and orderliness?
God is not a God of confusion
(NAS) is not (in this context) a call to doctrinal unity. Rather, here it is a call to order in public meetings, and ESPECIALLY to pure use of the Christian gifts such as prophecy. God's true prophet, Paul insists, manifests his divine "anointing" by self-control -- that is, his message is subject to both the Holy Spirit and to his own Spirit-controlled mind or spirit (Gal. 5:23). Have the "anointed" manifested such self- (or Spirit) control in their public utterances?

15:1-5 What five elements add up to the "good news ... through which you are also being saved"?
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ -- prophesied in the Old Testament and authenticated also by eye-witness testimony -- comprise the gospel of the apostles. Thus the true gospel is FACT, not human speculation or interpretation (cf. Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-26; 4:20,33; 5:27-32; 10:36-43; 17:16-18).
>> Witnessing tip: Ask the JW to list the Watchtower's 5 most important teachings (and after he's finished) suggest you read Paul's list.

15:6-11 What qualifies Paul to preach the gospel? (9:1; cf. Acts 10:39-42)


15:12-14 How serious is a false view of the resurrection?

15:15-19 What false witness were some of the Corinthians guilty of concerning Christ's resurrection?
The Greeks found the physical resurrection a unpalatable concept.
Says F.F. Bruce on this passage, "Conceivably they thought that the respectable Greek belief in the immortality of the soul (see on 1:12) was perfectly adequate, and that the idea of the resurrection of the body was an embarrassing Jewish handicap to the progress of the gospel in the Gentile world: it stood to reason that (in the words which Aeschylus puts into the mouth of Apollo) 'when the earth has drunk up a man's blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection' (Eumenides 647f.) Some kind of assumption into glory at death or at the parousia might be envisaged, but certainly not the reanimation of corpses. Perhaps they maintained a more sophisticated view, like Hymenaeus and Philetus at a later date, who held 'that the resurrection is past already' (2 Tim. 2:17): since Paul himself taught that believers in Christ had been raised from death with him, why should they think of any further resurrection?"
See commentaries by Bruce, Morris and Godet fur further information

15:20-22 How many shall be raised from the dead? (cf. Acts 24:15)

 

15:23-28 When shall Christians be resurrected?
During his presence
(v.23, NWT) renders en parousia. See note on Matt. 24:27. The Watchtower, however, has virtually ALL the human race resurrected during the millennium.

15:29-34 Who, according to context, would be numbered among "bad associations ... without knowledge of God"?
Denial of the physical reality of Christ's incarnation -- and resurrection -- became the foremost heresy of the post-apostolic period. I. Howard Marshall makes the following observation regarding the poisonous teaching of those threatening the church at the end of the first century: "It seems unlikely, therefore, that the false teachers simply denied the reality of the incarnation. The use of the present and perfect tenses becomes significant if the point is that Jesus Christ had come and still existed 'in flesh'. We know that some Gnostic thinkers taught that a heavenly power (the Christ) came upon Jesus at his baptism in the form of the Spirit, but that it departed from him again before the crucifixion, so that there was no lasting union of the divine Christ with the human Jesus, and hence no real, lasting incarnation. The elder's formulation of the orthodox faith in Jesus Christ seems to be designed to exclude such interpretations of the person of Jesus. For him it was axiomatic that there had been a true incarnation, that the Word had become flesh and remained flesh." – I. Howard Marshall, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles of John, pp. 70-71.
It is therefore even more significant that this is the doctrine of these teachers who, but 2 verses after, John warns us against in one of the Watchtower's favourite passages on the treatment of "apostates": Anyone who runs ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, DO NOT ALLOW HIM INTO YOUR HOUSE OR WELCOME HIM. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. - 2 John 9-11.

15:35-41 What kind of objection would those who ridicule the bodily resurrection resort to?
You unreasonable person! (
v.36, NWT) hardly seems adequate to express Paul's scorn of this mocking attitude: You fool! (NAS) seems more to the point, inasmuch as the psalmist David equates disbelief with foolishness (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).

15:42-44 Is the "spiritual body" resurrected, or re-created?
The four contrasts (it .... it ....) stress the continuity of the original human being. God does not clone you (from memory) -- He GLORIFIES you (cf. vv. 45-54; Rom. 8:11,29,30).

15:45-50 Does the statement that the "last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (v.45, NWT) demand that Christ gave up his human body?
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch at the same time as John was bishop of Asia, wrote to one of John's own congregations in a last effort to refute the very heresy which John was combatting a decade before in his own writings. Just before his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote to the congregation of Smyrna., "For I know that after His resurrection also He was still possessed of flesh, and I believe that He is so now. When, for instance, He came to those who were with Peter, He said to them, "Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit." And immediately they touched Him, and believed, being convinced both by His flesh and spirit. For this cause also they despised death, and were found its conquerors. And after his resurrection He did eat and drink with them, as being possessed of flesh, although spiritually He was united to the Father." – Ignatius, To the Smyrnaens, 3.

15:51-55 Who are the ALL that MUST be changed? When?
Language ceases to be meaningful when the last trumpet is blown 7 decades (and still counting) before the great trumpet! (compare Matt. 24:29-31 with Rev. 11:15-19; see Revelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand!, where virtually ALL Revelations judgments are placed in the Rutherford presidency!)

15:56-58 What is the Christian's victory -- deliverance through Armageddon or salvation from sin and death?

16:1-9 What financial obligation did Paul feel, and urge his Christian brethren to feel also?
Paul never lost his patriotism; he desired to witness to his fleshly brethren -- Israel -- in more than just words. Hence Paul urged "his" churches (those founded or nurtured by him) to become, as it were, his "offering" among the Gentiles. -- see Acts 24:17; Rom. 15:25-31; 2 Cor. 8 and 9.

16:10-12 Were such prominent brethren as Timothy and Apollos on assignment from Paul, or even from the"governing body"?

16:13-18 To whom should Christians be submissive? (v. 16, NWT) ?

16:19-24 Which LORD are the Corinthians to love, to find grace with, and to be found finally IN? (8:6;cf. John 13:13)
Even NWT has been unable to blunt the testimony these verses bear to the personal attachment of early Christians to the person of the LORD Jesus Christ. No doubt WT leaders would love to have inserted a Jehovah or two into the context to render the passage more ambiguous; but (as in Rom.14:7-12; cf. Phil. 2:5-11) to tamper with the text here would be to risk the equation of Jesus with the NAME above every name. Rather than risk that, NWT translators have preferred to let the Lord Jesus stand alone in the affections of both Paul and the Corinthians! At least on this occasion they've avoided the curse! (v. 22; see note on 14:12-19).

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