The 7 ‘Saves’ of 1 Corinthians

  • After the BP petroleum platform disaster came cries to shut down oil exploration.
  • When serious problems arise in the church some cry it’s time to close the doors.
    • The apostle Paul didn’t think like that. Problems were to be fixed in order that souls might be saved.
  • The verb “save” is used 9 times in 7 contexts in 1 Corinthians.
    • The words “salvation” and “Savior” are not used in the letter.
    • Its appearance in strategic texts suggests that a main concern of Paul’s in the correction of problems is to save people’s souls.
    • The first passage (1:18, 21) and the last (15:1-2) appear to frame the collection with the mention of the preaching of the gospel.

The seven saves

  1. Saved by the preaching of the gospel. The message of the cross is the power of God “to us who are being saved” (1:18). “God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching” (1:21).
  2. Saved by trial. Someone’s work may be burned up, but he himself “will be saved” (3:15).
  3. Saved by discipline. The immoral person is disciplined, “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (5:5).
  4. Saved by remaining. By staying with an unbelieving spouse, one may save that person (7:16, twice).
  5. Saved by identification. Paul became “all things to all people,” so that by all means he might save some (9:22).
  6. Saved by pleasing. Paul sought to please everyone for their benefit, “so that they may be saved” (10:33).
  7. Saved by preaching of the gospel. Christians are saved by holding firmly to the message of the gospel (15:2).

What does this mean?

  1. Failing to obey the will of God in doctrine, morals and worship means people will be lost. See, for example, the emphasis on condemnation and judgment for those who ate the Lord’s supper improperly (11:27-32). “… keeping God’s commandments is what counts” (7:19).
  2. The issue in solving problems is people’s salvation. The act of correcting problems is an act of saving souls. We may not expect the grace of God to cover all wrongs.
  3. Paul is concerned with people’s salvation. He emphasizes that getting back to the pattern taught among all the churches (1:1; 4:6-7, 16-17; 7:17; 11:16; 14:33-34, 36-38) is a question of saving ourselves and others.

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