“The Credential of Foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

We are really into credentials in our culture. We’re very interested in degrees and certifications. We want to be sure that everyone, from doctors to plumbers, know what they are doing when we have them working for us … or on us.

And the church at Corinth was into credentialing as well, that being something of the basis of what faction they belonged to, according to what teacher or leader they honored. From verse 12: What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Paul shoots down this sort of thinking that measured effectiveness by visible evidences of such as who was the best and most eloquent speaker, or who put on the best worship service … concluding that the real power resided elsewhere. He will now assert that the reality of success in ministry is not to be found in credentials, but rather in the power of the message of the cross.

(1:17) – For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

It was time to stop thinking about messengers, but to rather recognize the life-changing power of the message of the cross.

(1:18-25) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

How odd to speak of the cross as powerful.

  1. The cross was the ultimately most shameful death imaginable – designed to humiliate both the person hung on it and any who would associate with him.
  2. Secular writers of the early centuries mocked the cross message that was central to the Christian faith – calling it: “a perverse and extravagant superstition” … “a pernicious superstition” … and labelling Christians as people full of “sick delusions.”
  3. The true thinkers were those who reveled in “the wisdom” of the age – as in Corinth at the time of Paul’s writing (wherein was a culture much like our own) would be popularly found in one of several rational Greek philosophies … of the Epicureans, Stoics, Sophists, or Platonists. These were the Ivy Leaguers of the day.

But again, the real power is in the truth of the sacrifice achieved at the cross, and in the spirit-infused message of this truth through the mouthpiece of an ordinary person who possesses an undeniably changed life as a result …

1:26 – Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Here are three summary points …

  1. The world will never be sufficiently impressed with the gospel from a rational and logical point of view. There is a place for apologetics to give a rational defense, but the ultimate success will never be because it is the most rational message by human standards – there is an issue of faith involved.
  2. The power of the Gospel as evidenced in the changed life of a simple person is not only deniable, it is attractive!
  3. God especially uses the power of the message of the cross through an ordinary person. This is the sort of person God has always used – simple fishermen, converted tax collectors … you know – people like you and me.

To the natural man, the message of the cross is foolishness, and the messenger who proclaims it is a fool – especially if it is a person lacking in the human credentials du jour. But this divine foolishness, being from God, is above the most advanced human reasoning of the most learned, decorated, exalted human scholar and orator. Put this “foolish” message inside an undeniably changed life, and even the simple people of the world – people with humble backgrounds as our own – become effective communicators of the greatest truth ever, by His power.

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“The Main Thing is the Main Thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

My favorite professor in Bible College was not generally the favorite Bible/theology teacher with most of the other students. He was decent on covering the meat and potatoes of whatever book of the Bible/doctrinal class he was teaching through, and everyone appreciated the basic clarity. But he had a habit of getting really wound up about certain subjects that would take him down one rabbit trail after another of passionate proclamation, replete with screaming and yelling and pounding the lectern. Clearly, he had lived through some debates with people of a variant theological persuasion, and he was fully convinced that he was correct and that they were in error. I agreed with him, as I continue to do so to this day.

These rants were totally awesome and full of fantastic information. But most students were frustrated by them and would drop their pens (yes, long before computers were invented) and wait for it to pass and for him to return to the subject at hand. Frankly, the best stuff he delivered and the most important teachings I came to understand were in the rants … and they tied into the subject at hand in important ways that were not immediately obvious.

I really loved this guy so much, and a large part of my desire to ultimately attend Dallas Theological Seminary was because that is where he had gone to grad school. If you made an effort to get to know him, he was actually a wonderfully kind person that was not at all like the lectern-pounding prof that most merely knew in that way.

Diana and I had him perform our wedding nearly 42 years ago. I’ve often said, “I’m of McGahey.”  (His last name)

There was another professor who was much-loved because of the organization of his materials. He would pass out notes that were very clear, and then he would teach through them in a methodical and likeable way. You never got lost. It was predictable. If you failed his tests, it really was your own fault. And though I liked this prof and his teaching just fine, and while there was much commendable about it, I found it to also be a bit mechanical. But many students would identify themselves as “I am of Showers.”  (His last name)

Yet another theology professor was very deep, and, very old. He certainly knew the Scriptures and had apparently been at the college even before the Apostle Paul was saved on the road to Damascus (or so it seemed). Every student was required upon entrance in the college to purchase two large notebooks of his Bible and theology notes – whether you were going to be in his classes or not. He talked like he personally knew every theologian since Martin Luther (and looked like he might well have).

Not a particularly cheerful fellow (think of Bernie Sanders as a theology teacher – yes, that’s a stretch), he was rather intimidating in class. He would randomly call upon some student to pray, which was a terrifying experience – that is because he would critique your prayer when you were done. He might say something like, “Don’t pray like that ever again and stop telling God over and over who he is; HE KNOWS WHO HE IS!”

Yet some students especially liked this professor because of his deep roots into the history of the school and the history of American theological education. And they could say, “I am of Mason.”  (His last name)

So, who was correct of those students?  Who was the best professor to follow?  Well, the answer would be, of course, that each of these professors brought different perspectives and variant strengths to the classroom. It was not so much that one was better than another; they each had a role to play in making the Bible/theology department excellent. There were fantastic things to be learned from the passions of all three (and a collection of other instructors not included in this already-extended illustration).

But that is not how the Corinthian church appreciated their varied leaders. Instead of seeing diverse strengths and shades of gray, they only saw their leaders in complete black and white, right and wrong, strong and weak. And they also wrote off people who would not follow and join their assessments and viewpoints.

In 1 Corinthians 1 and 3, Paul addresses the first of a host of problems in the church – confronting the various divisions that arose in the church community. Imagine that! Divisions in a church!  Yes, churches old and new can be known to have such challenges. And so much of the problem is that we have divisions because we have diversity; and we allow the diversity to be seen as a weakness, when in fact it is a strength!

Paul writes …

1 Cor. 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

When Paul makes his appeal here that they “agree with one another,” the original wording has the literal sense that they all speak the same thing.

And when he writes of his desire that they be “perfectly united,” this has the literal Greek meaning of restoring something to its proper condition. It was the word used in Matthew 4:21 when Jesus came upon James and John “mending” their nets. So picture a tangle of ropes needing to be sorted out. And that is what the Corinthians needed to do about this division in their midst.

The story that had filtered to Paul was that they were essentially divided into four camps around four teachers/viewpoints … Paul, Apollos, Cephas/Peter, Christ. We’ll speculate in chapter 3 about how they may have perceived these teachers and divided in this way. But Paul goes on to say …

1:13 – Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Paul asks a series of three rather ridiculous questions… to which the answer for each was “of course not!”  Christ is not divided; Paul didn’t die on the cross for the Corinthians; baptism is not in the name of Paul (or any other mere preacher).

The further remarks that Paul writes might seem to indicate that some of these faction followers aligned themselves particularly around who had baptized them. And Paul says he was glad that he himself had not done that much baptizing. To show that this was not the big thing, he tells them that he couldn’t really remember who he had baptized (I can relate to that forgetfulness!).  The big issue was their salvation from darkness to light by the power of the gospel, and that was accomplished only by Christ – the same fact for ALL of them. This is the big common denominator.

Paul finished this section by affirming that the calling to preach the gospel is not a call to the best eloquence and (alleged) wisdom. This does not diminish the value for excellence in style and communication, but the real issue is the substance. You don’t have to click around the radio or TV dial long to find preachers with great style, but little substance!  And the Corinthians were too focused upon style, personalities, diversity … all rather than on the gospel message.

It is inevitable that we may all like one preacher or style of presentation over another. That’s rather human. But forming alliances around one or another would be wrong and a focus upon the wrong value. And we’ve thankfully never had much of this sort of thing at TSF, even while being the unusual church that features a variety of speakers. The primary teaching here is the reminder that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing = the gospel message.

“Christian Privilege” (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

Over time, words morph in their precise meaning and usage. We might observe such over the course of a lifetime, even seeing words take on an entirely different connotation.

It is interesting to see how the word “privilege” has morphed in the last decade.

The most basic meaning has to do with having an experience that is special or unique, like, “It was a great privilege to meet the Queen.”

Some time ago, the word began to be used of people who were elitist, especially economically. “People of privilege” were those who lived in that one wealthy section that most every town has – where wealth was accumulated, displayed, and passed down to next generations. So to have this sort of “privilege” was to have a descriptive identification that had a bit of a smear associated with it, sort of like being called a “spoiled brat.”

More recently, “privilege” has come into use in racial discussion, often in the context of identification as having “white privilege.”  This is confusing to many people, especially those who don’t really see themselves as coming from especially unique or affluent backgrounds. But the word is still directed at a wide swath of white culture, in that this racial identification gave people a head start privilege in every way – especially true in what was handed down over generations of American history and the opportunities presented.

Whereas this “white privilege” designation can be unfairly overplayed and too broadly applied, it is true that many of the historically predominant race in this country are oblivious to the abundance of their blessings, remaining also detached from the complications of being generationally a minority.

I think it is a general truth that most people underestimate their blessings and their privilege. This is especially true when one has grown up around abundance that was not personally earned, but rather inherited in the pervasive environment. Even people who have known a poorer time of life may tend to forget the full extent of the good fortune currently experienced.

As Paul opens his letter to the Corinthians, he reminds his readers of their privilege, while also reminding them of the grace through which this abundance has come to them. The Corinthians were really blessed in a big way, particularly in light of the darkness of the surrounding culture; they were a totally new and different people as a result of being called out of the world by God’s grace. The word for “church” (ekklesia) means to be “called out” … referencing a group of people who are called out to be together.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 … Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Did you see the two components in this opening greeting?  Paul is telling them that they are richly blessed in wonderful ways, while reminding them also that this is the wonderful gift of what Christ has done for them and given to them. Yes, it is great stuff with a wonderful future, but it is all by the initiative of God. He is telling them that they are people of privilege.

And yes, we too are people of privilege, coming from God’s grace. It is Christian privilege. It should be something of pleasure in which we revel, yet also fully with the knowledge that is has been a great gift. There should be no pride in it, rather, great humility and a sense of gratitude. Beyond that, it gives us no high ground of judgment, that is, beyond a high understanding of truth. Yet that also should lead us to share the truth humbly with others. We’re merely beggars who were granted knowledge of an unlimited source of food; and now we tell other beggars where it might be found.

“Background of the 1 Corinthians Letter”

When Paul’s 18 months of personal ministry in Corinth came to an end, he moved on from there with Priscilla and Aquila, leaving them in Ephesus as he continued to Jerusalem. In time, Paul would write letters to the Corinthians – two of which are in the Scriptures and the focus of our study through Easter. Actually, there were at least two other letters from Paul to the Corinthians that we know of. It is all rather confusing, but let me list Paul’s Corinthian visits and letters for you here …

  • First visit of Paul to Corinth (Acts 18:1-17)
  • A letter written to them (lost to us) that they misunderstood (see 1 Cor. 5:9-11)
  • A second letter – known to us as 1 Corinthians – to address a list of problems
  • Second visit of Paul to Corinth – described in 2 Cor. 2:1 as a “painful” visit
  • A third letter – lost to us – it was disciplinary in nature (2 Cor. 7:8-9) and grieved Paul to have to write it (2 Cor. 2:3-4)
  • A fourth letter – the text of 2 Corinthians.
  • Third visit – mentioned in Acts 20:2

Of course, what we are interested in is the inspired Word of God in the two letters we know as 1+2 Corinthians, but this whole summary shows the intimate nature of Paul’s relationship with the church in Corinth. It was not like he was just in and out of the town as a travelling missionary; he really knew and loved these people, even with their many faults.

The letter of 1 Corinthians is written to address of number of problems that Paul was aware of in the church of that city. Beyond that, he also is addressing a number of questions raised by the church in order to have clarification of a proper understanding of truth.

Among issues that Paul will address (and that we’ll cover as well over the weeks ahead) …

  • Divisions, squabbling, fighting among themselves … Paul had received reports about how they had divided into camps around their favorite teachers …
  • This behavior of division demonstrated their immaturity …
  • Failure to consistently live holy lives and deal with sin … The practices of the surrounding world were too often a part of life within the church community – not confronted, with insufficient challenges toward living a different life. This therefore led also to Paul needing to answer a variety of issues concerning marriage.
  • They were insensitive regarding Christian liberties …
  • Their focus on spiritual gifts was wrong, reveling in grandiose personal expressions, rather than seeing the gifts as given to serve others …
  • Some denied the resurrection, while many others undervalued the central teaching of this doctrine …

We might tend to look back at these Corinthians and wonder how these folks could be so clueless and entirely messed up. But remember, this is still very early in the church era. They didn’t even yet have the gospels to reference, along with the writings of Paul, etc.  We’ve already referenced their geographical and cultural setting. They had been Christians for only a very short time and had no models around them of people who had walked with Christ for decades.

This is not making excuses, as Paul himself said they should have been more mature in faith; but these factors do help to give some explanation for the complications unique to this church. It is certainly true in our era that we have far fewer excuses for not growing in faith.

“The Beginnings of a Church in Corinth” (Acts 18:1-17)

When looking that the letters and epistles of the New Testament, we are always driven back to the book of Acts for primary information on the expanse of the gospel in various locations, involving also various characters. And to do this for the Corinthians, we go back to the account in Acts chapter 18.

There may well have been some followers of Jesus in the city before Paul arrived, though it is highly unlikely that they were formed together into anything resembling a church. More likely, they were struggling to maintain some footing within the synagogue in Corinth. Likely also surrounding the activities of the synagogue were Gentile peoples who may have been turned off by the licentious behaviors in this pagan city, being attracted to the monotheism of the Jewish faith. However, the pathway forward was complicated and strewn with identity obstacles.

Paul was likely interested in getting a gospel foothold in this uniquely secular city, knowing of the great need for this truth. And beyond that, with the coming and goings of people in and out of this center of trade, the gospel message would also be heard and forwarded elsewhere.

As Paul arrives, he is coming off a very difficult recent season of ministry. The response to the preaching of Christ in Athens was rather tepid, and great difficulties and conflicts in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea) with the hostile Jewish element were not far past.

As Paul arrives in Corinth we see that he meets and stays with a Jewish couple – Aquila and Priscilla.

Acts 18:1 – After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

We don’t know if they all knew each other previously, if this couple had become Christians in the past, or if their salvation was through this association with Paul. Perhaps they merely came into partnership because of the common trade of tent making (leather working). This likely also indicates that Paul needed to make some money for personal sustenance. But when Silas and Timothy arrive, they bring an offering that thereby set Paul free to concentrate on preaching.

Acts 18:5 – When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.

Ugh! It happens again – Jewish opposition. You can’t blame Paul for being very disgusted and exclaiming how he would focus now on Gentile ministry.

Acts 18:7 – Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

There is a humorous component to this story, in that Paul ends up teaching immediately next door to the synagogue, along with Crispus (the former synagogue leader) coming to faith. Surely it was a daily irritation for the stubborn and intransigent Jews to see the life of the growing church immediately next door, including their former leader! And I could imagine how this difficulty would add to the many other wearying elements in Paul’s life. And the Lord gives Paul a timely word of encouragement …

Acts 18:9 – One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

I’ve never had a vision in the night, but I have had a couple of incidents in ministry where the weariness, discouragement and opposition brought me to a point of nearly quitting it all … and God intervened with a timely and unexpected encouragement from some person or circumstance to keep me going.

But the main point I want us to remember from this passage, along with just the background to inform our understanding throughout this series, is the specific revelation from the Lord that: I have many people in this city. Isn’t God’s grace the greatest thing!!  Corinth! Many people chosen by God!

While in this unique place of ministry, Paul gets the encouragement of a positive outcome in court, seeing his opponents disgraced and driven away…

Acts 17:12 – While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” 14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.

So the new synagogue leader takes a beating – this event probably also revealing some anti-Semitic sentiment in this secular city. It also set a legal precedent that this Jesus teaching was (in Roman eyes) just a dispute within Judaism rather than an illegal new religion.

Just keep on talking and preaching the Word – that was the encouragement from the Lord to Paul. Out of Paul’s talking in these 18 months in Corinth would come the effective discipling of Aquila and Priscilla. As well, many in the church at Corinth would be discipled toward the growth of a substantial body of believers.

Likewise for us, we should not be discouraged but continue to keep on speaking truth. Someone said in the Scriptures to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Oh … wait … Paul said that!  (Galatians 6:9)

Meet the Corinthians

As we enter into 16-week study on Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians, let me repeat for you here the sermon series description overview, just in the event that you did not read it on the home page or see it on the print brochure at church.

“I’m OK, You’re OK” was the name of a best-selling, pop psychology book published 50 years ago. Sounds good, but it’s lousy theology. A better title that truly describes the human condition would be, “I’m a Mess, You’re a Mess.”  And when we think of Christians who were renowned to be a mess, the “exhibit A” that first comes to mind is the church in Corinth. At a crossroads of travel on the isthmus of Greece, it was 50 miles west of the Greek capital of Athens. And in Hagerstown, we’re an hour west of another capital, also located at a travel crossroads of interstates – for better or worse. Are we a modern Corinth?  Let’s talk!  Yes, We Got Issues, but we’ll also see that we’ve got answers!

A major component of biblical study is to understand both the original audience being written to, as well as the author. So let’s review for a moment some of what we know about the city of Corinth and the Corinthian people.

Greece is shaped somewhat like an hour-glass, the two sections held together by a mere sliver of land. The mainland of Greece (which included Macedonia) was connected to the large peninsula area known as Achaia. It is easy to imagine how this narrow place where Corinth was located became a crossroads of both land and sea commerce. You can see how land traffic would flow back and forth from the southwest Greek peninsula to the northeast. And sea merchants would rather off-load and re-load cargo across the isthmus than risk the treacherous voyage around the peninsula. Smaller ships were even dragged across the land bridge.

Destroyed originally by the Romans in 146 B.C., it was rebuilt about a century later as a Roman colony. Populated first by Romans, there were Greeks as well; and varied peoples from all over the empire became a part of this very cosmopolitan and multi-cultural place not far west of Athens. This included Jews, and hence there was a synagogue.

In the same way we in America often look at Vegas as “sin city,” Corinth had something of a similar reputation in the ancient world. In Plato’s classic work “Republic,” when making reference to a prostitute, he used the expression “Corinthian girl.”  Indeed, much of the wealth and depravity in the city was due to the thousand temple prostitutes at the temple of Aphrodite. There was a phrase at that time – “to Corinthianize someone” – and it meant to lead them fully into the ways of the devil.

So Paul’s motivation to go to Corinth would certainly be to bring the gospel to this unique place of special darkness and spiritual need. Yet also, fruits of the gospel here would have the benefit of spreading from this place to regions beyond.

It was likely rather early for most of us in our growth of knowing the Scriptures that we became aware that the Corinthians are most often regarded as the most carnal and immature of the early churches in the New Testament.

You might right now be thinking, “Now hold on Pastor Randy. When I hear you saying that ‘We are Corinth; Corinth is Us, that doesn’t feel so good. You do that and then, yes, ‘we got issues.’  You’re not getting us off to a very good start here in 2019!”

Hey, I see what you’re saying. And no, I’m not saying that we compare poorly with all other churches as the worst and most problematic – as the Corinthians did relative to most of the other New Testament churches. That certainly is not true of us; quite the opposite is the situation. When I’m with pastors and we “talk shop,” I always come away from those sessions thinking I’ve got a pretty sweet deal in being at TSF.

What I’m saying is that we do, and always will, have some “issues” by the mere nature of being sinful people in a sinful world. We’re not perfect, and we’re going to have to work through some church life and personal complications at times, even as we seek to be the very best family of God that we can be.

And, speaking of family, we can’t disown the Corinthians as blood relatives in every way. And we need to recognize our same capacities for problems, especially given the reality of some surrounding, cultural similarities that are more abundant than may at first be evident. And, as we’ll conclude regularly through this series, we are well-resourced to deal with these occasional difficulties.

So, yes, we’ll admit to having some issues. But the greater truth is that we have answers.