Study Guide

Corinthians Themes

  • Arrogance

    Mr. Darcy might have thought that pride could be kept in good regulation, but Paul just doesn't agree. He can't think of anything worse than bragging about your accomplishments day and night. He generally refuses to do it, except, you know, when absolutely necessary. But bragging about God and his good deeds? Feel free to do that all day. The Big Guy is kind of into praise.

    Questions About Arrogance

    1. Does Paul have a point about the false apostles? Does the bragging make them seem less holy?
    2. Paul does end up talking about himself a lot. Do you think he really hates to brag about himself? Or is he just saying that?
    3. Why is it okay to talk up God? Is God the only being in the universe that doesn't have any humility?
  • Authority

    Who's got the power? Well, if you ask Paul… it's Paul. He's an apostle—one who is sent—and the founder of the church in Corinth, so that means he gets to speak on behalf of God. He even claims that his instructions for what the church ought to be doing come from the Big Guy himself. We know what you're thinking—he's so humble.

    Questions About Authority

    1. How does Paul's insistence on his own authority conflict with his desire to be humble?
    2. Is Paul putting himself in God's place through his claim of authority?
    3. What do you think it would be like to meet Paul in person? Would he seem powerful or meek?
    4. What gave Paul authority: his assertion that he saw the Risen Christ or his founding of the church in Corinth? Or are there other things? Or does he really not have a leg to stand on?
  • Community

    We're all in this together—that's Paul's motto. There's nothing he loves more than seeing his little flock of Christians living in harmony. He's big on putting others before yourself and caring and sharing in general. Many he should go ahead and join the Care Bears? Apostle Bear here we come!

    Questions About Community

    1. Why do you think 1 Corinthians 13 is so popular at weddings? Is it appropriate for the occasion? Why or why not?
    2. Is communion in churches today what Paul envisioned it? Do a little research if you need to.
    3. What's with all the talk about caring, sharing, and taking turns? Does Paul actually believe this stuff?
  • Love

    Love is patient, love is… wait a second, we've heard that before. At every wedding we've ever been to. Why? Well, because Paul's thoughts on love are pure poetry. But he isn't just talking about a summer crush or even the sweet, sweet love we all feel for Ryan Gosling. Paul basically thinks that love should encompass our entire lives. It's like we should all be walking around wearing bracelets that say WWLD (What Would Love Do?). If you think of everything you do in terms of love, you'll never let anyone down. Yeah, it's a tall order, but Paul wants everyone to give it a shot.

    Questions About Love

    1. Why does Paul prefer love over knowledge and wisdom?
    2. Paul thinks of love as a duty—love God and love your apostle. But is love really love if we're obligated to be doing it?
    3. Is the love that Paul is talking about love for an individual or love for a community? Or both?
  • Weakness

    Weakness is the worst, right? Who wouldn't rather be powerful, important, and impressive? Well, Paul for one. His favorite pastime is bragging about how lowly and weak he is. And it makes sense when you think about his main man, Jesus. See, Jesus was a peasant who went on to be crucified as a common criminal. Not exactly a man of power and might. But—twist ending!—Jesus turned it all around. And Paul's pretty anxious to walk in his lowly footsteps.

    Questions About Weakness

    1. How does Paul's idea of Jesus shape his thoughts about weakness?
    2. Do you think Paul was as unimpressive as he says? Or is that just a clever humble brag?
    3. Why is Paul constantly finding himself in dangerous situations?
    4. How would God be different if he favored the strong instead of the weak?