“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit. And there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” - 1 Corinthians 12:3-7
This, from our reading yesterday, is perhaps the clearest example of Paul’s understanding of the interplay between God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Throughout this letter Paul has been using these terms interchangeably – referring liberally to the same Being – and here they are tightly wound around a spiral of attributes that synonymously reinforce each other. It’s easy to imagine that Paul is doing more than making a theological point: God Himself provides the prime example of the unity that Paul wishes upon the Corinthian “body.”
Pay close attention to the roles of God the Father and Jesus and especially the use of verbs in the 15th chapter. Only rarely is Christ portrayed as active: “Christ died,” and “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…” Typically, Christ is represented as passively receiving what the Father gives Him: He “was raised on the third day,” and “God has put all things in subjection under His feet.” Follow this throughout the chapter: Christ did not raise Himself; rather, “We testified about God that He raised Christ.” This is not at all subtle, and forms the foundation of Paul’s argument that the dead will also be raised.
There is an energy to chapter 15 that gives us another side of Paul’s personality, of a passion for the Gospel that was displayed in the opening verses of this letter and throughout the book of Acts: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”
Notice what Paul declares is “of first importance”… notice the number of times the words “raised” and “death” appear... the emphasis on Jesus’ appearances… the interplay of creation and resurrection, mortality and immortality… and the way Paul uses actual and presumptive questions to push the conversation forward.
In the final chapter Paul reviews his travel plans and reinforces his call for a collection for the saints at Jerusalem. He commends certain believers as models and travelers, including Timothy, who may be coming their way. His final instructions include a reminder, once more, to “Let all that you do be done in love.”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel. The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
1 Corinthians 15 and 16. Now let’s read it!
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.