Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Letters to the Corinthians

THE apostle Paul is deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the congregation in Corinth. He has heard that there are dissensions among the brothers there. Immorality is being tolerated. The congregation has also written Paul, inquiring about certain matters. So about 55 C.E., when he is in Ephesus during the course of his third missionary journey, Paul writes the first of his two letters to the Corinthians.

The second letter, apparently written only a few months after the first, is a follow-up letter. Since conditions both inside and outside the congregation in first-century Corinth correspond in many ways to our times, the message of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians is of great value to us.​—Heb. 4:12.


(1 Cor. 1:1–16:24)

“You should all speak in agreement,” exhorts Paul. (1 Cor. 1:10) There is ‘no other foundation than Jesus Christ,’ on which Christian qualities are built. (1 Cor. 3:11-13) Concerning a fornicator in the congregation, Paul says: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Cor. 5:13) “The body is not for fornication,” he says, “but for the Lord.”​—1 Cor. 6:13.

In response to “the things about which [they] wrote,” Paul provides sound counsel regarding marriage and singleness. (1 Cor. 7:1) After commenting on Christian headship, on orderliness at Christian meetings, and on the certainty of the resurrection, Paul gives the exhortation: “Stay awake, stand firm in the faith, carry on as men, grow mighty.”​—1 Cor. 16:13.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1:21—Does Jehovah really use “foolishness” to save those believing? No, he does not. However, since “the world through its wisdom did not get to know God,” what he uses to save people appears foolish to the world.​—John 17:25.

5:5—What does it mean to “hand [the wicked] man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, in order that the spirit may be saved”? When an unrepentant practicer of gross sin is disfellowshipped from the  congregation, he again becomes part of Satan’s wicked world. (1 John 5:19) Hence, he is spoken of as being handed over to Satan. The person’s expulsion results in the destruction, or the removal, of the corrupting element from the congregation and in the preservation of its spirit, or dominant attitude.​—2 Tim. 4:22.

7:33, 34—What is meant by “the things of the world” for which a married man or woman is anxious? Paul is referring to the mundane things in life with which married Christians need to be concerned. These include food, clothing, and housing, but exclude the bad things of this world, which Christians shun.​—1 John 2:15-17.

11:26—How “often” is Jesus’ death to be commemorated, and “until” when? Paul was not saying that Jesus’ death would be commemorated often. The Greek word used for “as often as” means “whenever” or “every time that.” Therefore, Paul was saying that every time anointed Christians partake of the Memorial emblems, once a year on Nisan 14, they are “proclaiming the death of the Lord.” They do this “until he arrives,” that is, until he receives them into the heavens by a resurrection.​—1 Thess. 4:14-17.

13:13—In what way is love greater than faith and hope? When the “things hoped for” become a reality and “the assured expectation” of them is realized, aspects of faith and hope come to an end. (Heb. 11:1) Love is greater than faith and hope in that it remains forever.

15:29—What does it mean to be “baptized for the purpose of being dead ones”? Paul was not suggesting that living people be baptized on behalf of those who died in an unbaptized state. Paul is here speaking of the immersion of spirit-anointed Christians into a course of life wherein they keep their integrity until their death and subsequent resurrection to spirit life.

Lessons for Us:

1:26-31; 3:3-9; 4:7. Humbly boasting in Jehovah, not in ourselves, promotes unity in the congregation.

2:3-5. While witnessing in Corinth, a center of Greek philosophy and learning, Paul may have been concerned about whether he would be able to persuade his listeners. However, he did not allow any weakness or fear he might have had to interfere with the carrying out of his God-given ministry. Likewise, we should not permit unusual circumstances to hold us back from declaring the good news of God’s Kingdom. We can confidently look to Jehovah for help as did Paul.

2:16. To have “the mind of Christ” is to know the pattern of his thinking, to think as he does, to have a grasp of the full range of his personality, and to imitate his example. (1 Pet. 2:21; 4:1) How important it is that we carefully study Jesus’ life and ministry!

3:10-15; 4:17. We should analyze and improve our ability to teach and make disciples. (Matt. 28:19, 20) If we do not teach well, our student may not survive tests of faith, and we may suffer a loss so painful that our salvation will be “as through fire.”

6:18. To “flee from fornication” is to avoid not only acts of por·neiʹa but also pornography, moral uncleanness, sexual fantasizing, flirting​—anything that can lead to fornication.​—Matt. 5:28; Jas. 3:17.

7:29. Marriage mates ought to be careful not to get so absorbed in each other that Kingdom interests take second place in their lives.

10:8-11. Jehovah was greatly offended when Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron. We are wise when we guard against developing a pattern of murmuring.

16:2. Our financial giving toward the advancement of Kingdom interests will be  consistent if it is planned in advance and is done systematically.


(2 Cor. 1:1–13:14)

Paul tells the Corinthians that they should “kindly forgive and comfort” a repentant wrongdoer who has been rebuked. Although his first letter had saddened them, Paul expresses joy because they were “saddened into repenting.”​—2 Cor. 2:6, 7; 7:8, 9.

‘Just as they are abounding in everything,’ Paul encourages the Corinthians to ‘abound in giving.’ After answering opposers, he gives final advice to all: “Continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably.”​—2 Cor. 8:7; 13:11.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:15, 16—How are we “a sweet odor of Christ”? This is the case because we adhere to the Bible and share in dispensing its message. While such “fragrance” might be disgusting to unrighteous individuals, it is sweet-smelling to Jehovah and honesthearted ones.

5:16—How is it that anointed Christians “know no man according to the flesh”? They do not look upon people in a fleshly way, that is, showing favoritism on the basis of wealth, race, or ethnic or national origin. What is important to them is their spiritual relationship with fellow believers.

11:1, 16; 12:11—Was Paul being unreasonable with the Corinthians? No, he was not. However, he may have appeared to some to be boastful and unreasonable because of what he was compelled to say in defense of his apostleship.

12:1-4—Who “was caught away into paradise”? Since the Bible does not speak of any other person who had such a vision and the passage follows Paul’s defense of his apostleship, he was probably relating his own experience. What the apostle envisioned was likely the spiritual paradise enjoyed by the Christian congregation in “the time of the end.”​—Dan. 12:4.

Lessons for Us:

3:5. In principle, this verse tells us that Jehovah adequately qualifies Christians for the ministry by his Word, his holy spirit, and the earthly part of his organization. (John 16:7; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17) We do well to study the Bible and Bible-based publications diligently, persistently pray for holy spirit, and regularly attend and participate in Christian meetings.​—Ps. 1:1-3; Luke 11:10-13; Heb. 10:24, 25.

4:16. Since Jehovah renews ‘the man we are inside from day to day,’ we should regularly avail ourselves of Jehovah’s provisions, not allowing a day to go by without giving consideration to spiritual matters.

4:17, 18. Remembering that “the tribulation is momentary and light” can help us to remain faithful to Jehovah during hardship.

5:1-5. How beautifully Paul expresses the sentiments of anointed Christians toward their hope of heavenly life!

10:13. As a general rule, unless some specific arrangements have been made for us to help where the need is greater, we should work only the territory assigned to our congregation.

13:5. To ‘test whether we are in the faith,’ we have to measure our conduct in the light of what we learn from the Bible. To ‘prove what we ourselves are,’ we have to evaluate the level of our spirituality, including the sharpness of our “perceptive powers” and the extent of our works of faith. (Heb. 5:14; Jas. 1:22-25) By applying Paul’s sound advice, we can keep on walking in the way of the truth.

[Picture on page 26, 27]

What is the meaning of the words “as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup”?​—1 Cor. 11:26