Don’t Be Mismatched

One year had passed after the first letter to the Corinthians. Some of the leading members of the church continued to spend time with their friends in pagan temples. The temples were the “restaurants” of Corinth, but they had two very disturbing aspects. Offerings were made to the pagan god of the temple and the […]

Open Wide Your Heart

The church I served in Louisiana needed to be expanded. We met in a World War II army barracks that had been moved to a lot on Warren Street. As a 25-year-old pastor, I was nervous when I attended a deacon’s meeting of the mother church for our mission. The First Baptist Church had forty […]

“All In” with Jesus

One Thursday night, I was playing games with children in the church’s gym. It was time to leave, but they wanted to continue playing. Their Hispanic mom spoke something to them in Spanish that got them moving at the speed of light. I don’t know what she said, but I recognized the universal “mom” tone […]

New Creations in Christ

On a summer night in 1967, I prayed a simple prayer: “God you can have my life.” God responded to my brief prayer and I became a new person. Before that prayer, I resisted every invitation to attend church. After the prayer, I was present every time the church doors were open. I was very […]

The Power of Self-Giving Love

Thank God for Paul’s critics, because his answers to them gave the church profound insights into the person and work of Christ. In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I discuss the false teachers who came to Corinth after Paul had left. They were “more show than go,” as the old South expression has it. […]

Our Home in Heaven

What people believe about heaven will determine how they live on earth. For the most part, the 50,000 non-Christians who lived in Corinth didn’t believe in life after death. Their behavior reflected this conviction. The main interests in Corinthian society were status, wealth, health, beauty, power, success, and the like. American culture appears to imitate […]

Glory Beyond Measure

Jesus taught that two commandments summarized God’s entire law. — Matthew 27.37-39 – He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ “This is the greatest and first commandment. “And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as […]

God’s Treasure in Clay Jars

The Christian singing group, Jars of Clay, has given today’s Bible passage contemporary notoriety. — 2 Corinthians 4.7 – But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross explains why […]

Paul’s Battle on Two Fronts

Gandhi said, “I would have been a Christian if it hadn’t been for Christians.” The famous Indian leader understood one-half of Paul’s battle, against misbehaving Christians. The other half of the battle involved crowds of people who opposed Jesus and his followers. Trouble in Corinth So-called Christian leaders stirred up trouble for the fledgling church […]

You can’t see what you can’t see.

Moses’ encounter with God on Mt. Sinai was so profound that his face shone with the glory of that experience. The new-look on Moses’ face was so startling that he put a veil over it to keep from frightening the people. Even with the testimony of Moses, the nation remained hardened to God’s guidance. Paul […]

Life in the Spirit

Rudy Ross and I produce a daily YouTube video that can be seen on the Bob Spradling channel. Rudy and I have been talking about the Bible for 20 years. Our relationship began by praying together and expanded to a Holy Spirit-inspired friendship. My knowledge of the Bible and my spiritual life has been enriched […]

God’s True Representative

In today’s YouTube video with Rudy Ross, I talk about a very unusual preacher I knew when I was in college. As a young man, he was incarcerated for drunkenness and fighting. After a profound conversion, he began preaching. He couldn’t read, so his wife read the Bible to him. He literally built the church […]

God’s “Rose Bowl” Parade

When the Roman army conquered and subjugated a nation, they had a victory parade through the streets of Rome. Incense was offered to the gods of war because all victories were seen as a cooperative effort between the army and their gods. The spoils of war were loaded on carts and displayed to the crowds. […]

How to Restore the Fallen

Paul addressed a serious sin problem in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 5). His direction to the church was to excommunicate the offender. He wrote, “You are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” […]

The Heart of Leadership

The heart of church leadership begins with God. — 2 Corinthians 1.21-22 – But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. God establishes and anoints leaders for their service. An […]

God’s “Yes” to Us

The Corinthians church had a pride problem. Right off the bat, Paul confronted their pride. — 1 Corinthians 1.28-29, 31 – God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. […]

God’s Consolation

The prayer that begins this letter also states the theme of Paul’s words to the church. “Consolation” is used so frequently in verses 3-7 that is almost a tongue-twister when reading the passage aloud. — 2 Corinthians 1.3-7 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and […]

Concluding Thoughts to the Church

As Paul closed his first letter to the Corinthians, there were a few issues he wanted to highlight. He reminded the church of instructions for a collection for Christians in Jerusalem. The church in Israel was suffering because of persecution and famine. Churches in Asia Minor collected an offering to supply the needs of their […]

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory.

The word “victory” is an exhilarating word for winners. Whether it is a war, a sporting event, or life itself, victory is great news. Victory over the last enemy, death, is absolutely the best news of all. Reminder: Life after Life-after-Death The next verses in our study can be confusing, so I want to remind […]

Return to the Image of God

We are fortunate that the church in Corinth had so many problems. We have learned so much from Paul’s corrections of their issues. To answer questions about resurrection life, Paul engaged in a set of contrasts. I have divided the material to emphasize how different resurrected life is from our current existence. — 1 Corinthians […]

Life After Life-After-Death

For many years I puzzled over the remaining verses of 1 Corinthians 15, as I attempted to reconcile them with other statements in the Bible. N. T. Wright, a world-class scholar, solved the problem for me with his terminology, “life after life-after-death.” What did Wright mean? This is how I understand his words. Life after […]

Baptism for the Dead and Other Problems

Part of Paul’s logic in favor of resurrection life involved a curious statement about baptism for the dead. — 1 Corinthians 15.29 – Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Where did such […]

The Logic of Resurrection Life

Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter today. Seldom have there been two different expressions of the resurrection of Christ. One took place in Ukraine, where worshipers observed the resurrection under a primitive, hastily built chapel. Their church had been totally destroyed by a missile. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin attended Easter services, led by the head of the […]

Resurrection Life and the Gospel

In one of our videos this week, Rudy Ross made an insightful comment. He said, “People want to know about God, but they don’t want to read the Bible.” His words were so true that I asked him to repeat them for emphasis. When God’s people take their understanding of God from the surrounding culture, […]

The Role of Women in Worship

There are some Bible passages that I have always avoided when preaching. Today’s passage is one. — 1 Corinthians 14.34-36 – Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask […]

How God is Revealed in Worship

God is not a God of confusion. In fact, he is a God who brings order out of confusion. The account of creation states that the Spirit of God brought order out of chaos. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was […]

Order in Worship

When you imagine a worship service in Corinth, please put out of your mind the kind of worship we know in America. There were no church buildings in Corinth. People met in homes that could hold 20 or fewer people. There were no preachers, no order of service, and no worship leaders. Instead, there was […]

Tongues and the Book of Isaiah

In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross suggests that insight into 1 Corinthians 14.20-25 can be accomplished by reading chapters 25-28 of the Book of Isaiah. Let’s first look at Corinthians and then turn to Isaiah. — 1 Corinthians 14.20-25 – Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, […]

The Practical Use of Tongues

Paul did not discourage speaking in tongues, as we will see in today’s passage. On the other hand, Paul placed guidelines around the exercise of this spiritual gift. — 1 Corinthians 14.13-15 – Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my […]

Speaking in Tongues (Part 2)

In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I discuss the practical aspect of speaking in tongues today. Today’s blog article will be a combination of a history lesson and modern-day application. Paul’s Message The central message of 1 Corinthians 12-14 is that the purpose of spiritual gifts is for the building up of the church. […]

Speaking in Tongues

Over the years, I have often been asked my opinion about speaking in tongues. My response has been to invite people to prayerfully and carefully read 1 Corinthians 12-14. I also ask them to filter out the previous teaching that they may have already heard. — For my Baptist friends I ask them to take […]

The Enduring Nature of Love

If your experience with 1 Corinthians 13 is limited to wedding ceremonies and greeting cards, you will have probably missed the important theological message of this chapter. The Corinthians church believed in what scholars call “realized eschatology.” Don’t let my 50 Cent words scare you off. Eschatology comes from the Greek word, “eschaton.” The eschaton […]

The Qualities of Love

Each of the qualities of love that Paul has listed in the following verses corresponds to a defect in the way of love that was expressed by the Corinthians church. — 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 – Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist […]

The Supremacy of Love

Some of the most eloquent words about love were written to correct the thinking of a small church in first-century Corinth. Each line in this chapter addresses faulty attitudes and actions of the church. At the same time, the nature of love is explored in great depth. — 1 Corinthians 13.1-3 – If I speak […]

Explaining Spiritual Gifts (Part 2)

The Holy Spirit empowers people with special gifts that are designed to build up the body of Christ. A strong and united church is necessary to help the surrounding world to better experience God’s love. Yesterday’s article and YouTube video covered some of the gifts. We will finish Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians today. — […]

Examining the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

When we live in a relationship with the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit activates, captivates, and motivates our lives, he can do anything he desires with us. The Holy Spirit does specific things with his followers for the benefit of everyone. A unified and gifted church will reveal God’s character to a world that needs […]

Everybody is Important!

The first disciples were an interesting lot of men. — Andrew, Peter, James, and John were fishermen. Thomas, Nathaniel, and Philip may have also worked as fishermen, for they were all together and fishing when Jesus appeared to them. — Matthew was a tax collector, which was a despised occupation in first-century Israel. — Simon […]

Spiritual Pride and Gift Envy

In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I plead guilty to some of the bad attitudes and actions of the early Corinthian church. I will also plead guilty to delaying for another day the discussion of the individual gifts of the Spirit. Besides an enumeration of the gifts, the next verses highlight three possible ways […]

Gifts of the Spirit

Paul’s discussion of the gift of the Holy Spirit illuminates many important aspects of God’s activity among people. In today’s article, I will explore three key elements of God’s work with his followers. — 1 Corinthians 12.4-7 – Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; And there are varieties of services, but […]

Jesus is Lord and Money Talks

Gifts of the Holy Spirit were controversial in the mid-first century and to some extent are problematic in our age. Paul devoted three chapters of his letter to the Corinthians to show them the value of spiritual gifts, and also to correct their beliefs. When in doubt about spiritual gifts, read 1 Corinthians 12-14 without […]

Learning from a Messed Up Church

If the church in Corinth didn’t have so many problems, our understanding of an array of spiritual truths would be lacking. Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper does not appear in his other letters. The misuse of the Lord’s Supper by the Corinthians church gave us the gift of profound instruction. Yesterday, I wrote at […]

When going to church can be wrong.

Why are we studying a letter that was written 2000 years ago? How can it be pertinent to the modern reader? Once we understand what took place in Corinth long ago, we can apply it to similar issues in our times. The Corinthians church didn’t have a building. They met in members’ homes that were […]

Distinctions Between Men and Women

1 Corinthians 11.2-16 is the most difficult portion of Paul’s letter to interpret for the modern audience. There are several reasons why this is so. (1) We don’t know the problem that Paul is addressing in these verses. Paul instructs the church but doesn’t give a reason why he felt it necessary to do so. […]

Glorify God in Everything!

Jesus lived a life of self-giving love. As God’s “salt” and “light” (Matthew 5.13-16), we are to live like Jesus. The major theme of 1 Corinthians is a call for the church to live in sacrificial love. — 1 Corinthians 10.23-24 – “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are […]

Run for Your Life!

Paul devoted several chapters of his first letter to the Corinthians to the subject of eating food that was sacrificed to idols. We only have Paul’s side of the discussion, but we can assume the positions were as follows. — Church Leaders – All of us possess knowledge (1 Cor. 8.1). — Paul – Knowledge […]

A Warning and a Promise

I have frequently turned to the two verses of today’s study and applied them to my life. One is a warning and the other is a profound promise. Don’t Miss the Warning “How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Samuel 1.19) was David’s lament, when he heard of the death of King Saul and his son […]

A Very Serious Warning

Paul used “typology” in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 10. The people of God who experienced the Exodus from Egypt were a “type” or an “example” of what can take place in the life of a Christian. As Paul describes the way the Exodus was a “type” or “example” of what can take place […]

Wilted Celery or a Heavenly Crown

Paul ended his appeal to the leading members of the church in Corinth with an appeal to self-control. Every two years, Corinth celebrated the Isthmian Games. The event was a major source of income for the city, similar to being the host city for the Olympics or the Super Bowl. Contestants and spectators came from […]

All for the sake of the Gospel

Rudy Ross and I divided our presentation of 1 Corinthians 9 into sections for the sake of time on the YouTube video we produce. We broke into Paul’s argument, where he listed all of the rights he could assume at Corinth but refused to accept. There is more to his thoughts. — 1 Corinthians 9.8-13 […]