Aug 18, 2012

1 Corinthians Preaching Series, Reflection, & Commentaries

At CrossRidge Church we're close to wrapping up our ROOTED in Christ series through 1 Corinthians.  This biblical book has been immensely challenging as a young pastor of a young church.  It addresses virtually all the controversial topics in churches and in our world today: self-centeredness, cross-centered gospel proclamation, division in the church, church discipline including excommunication, judging others, lawsuits among Christians, incest, sexual morality, homosexuality, marriage, divorce, remarriage, freedom & frequency of sex in marriage, singleness, widowhood, idolatry, Christian liberty and limits regarding changing cultural norms, gender roles in marriage/church/society, Communion, baptism, baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, love, so-called sign gifts such as prophecy/tongues/healing, the bodily resurrection of Christians, & collecting money from Christians.  This book has also proved to me and our church family to be of vital importance in helping us understand what it means to live our identity as a community transformed by the cross of Christ!

I thought it'd be helpful to include a list of the commentaries I have read or used specifically throughout this series:

  • Pillar New Testament Commentary Series: The First Letter to the Corinthians by Roy Ciampa & Brian Rosner (General Editor: D.A. Carson) - excellent exegetical commentary that espouses the text with a good grasp of Corinth's socio-political context including a balance between Jewish & Gentile context in Paul's writing, and comprehensive exposition of the text without losing the reader.  This is probably my favorite commentary I've read on correctly interpreting the book of 1 Corinthians. The theological language will likely need to be adapted for sermons in most local churches.
  • NIV Application Commentary Series: 1 Corinthians by Craig L. Blomberg - superior interpretation even on difficult passages but still very engaging and practical.  Helpful for application points in sermon preparation but probably most beneficial to believers in small group discussion or for individual personal study.
  • Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians by N.T. Wright - not a particularly helpful commentary but a good challenge to press me on my interpretation.  I tend to be impressed with the manner in which Wright approaches the text--particularly his socio-political knowledge of the New Testament--but I am repeatedly disappointed with his conclusions.  Because this commentary is marketed to the masses I also fear that individual believers may be misled by this brief and insufficient work. 
  • Showing the Spirit by D.A. Carson - absolutely unparalleled exposition of chapters 12-14 in 1 Corinthians.  This is the best commentary on understanding the sign gifts and the use of tongues in the local church.  He is generous to both the cessationist position and charismatic experience and is concerned with utter faithfulness to the text.  The work is technical and thorough yet accessible to the common student or pastor.
  • New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICOT) Series: The First Epistle to the Corinthians by Gordon Fee - a beneficial defense of the Holiness-Pentecostal (charismatic) position.  I personally feel he is more devoted to his tradition than the Word, particularly in chapters 11-14 where he offers no textual evidence for baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit as a subsequent experience.  Some of his insights throughout the commentary are helpful but I perceive his verbiage as often pretentious and therefore unhelpful.
  • New Interpreter's Bible Commentary Series: Volume X - Acts-1 Corinthians (Edited by Leander Keck) [note: 1 Corinthians Commentary Author: J. Paul Sampley] - an academic work seemingly targeting undergrad students.  Helpful in recognizing themes within the book of 1 Corinthians, the cultural context of the city, and the church in Corinth (though I feel the author pushes a bit too far in his interpretation of the Corinthian church as representative of early Christian tradition.  The body was certainly an example but probably not entirely representative).
How about you?  What works have you found helpful in studying 1 Corinthians or the many issues included in this biblical book?  What questions or issues do you wrestle with in Paul's first letter to Corinth?

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