Worship in the church in 1 Corinthians

Some days ago, I was looking through the book by our brother Jack Wilhelm, Paul’s Conversion and Missionary Journeys, and noticed a list of the five acts of worship in 1 Corinthians.

I’ve since loaned out the book, so I can’t reproduce his list exactly, but it wasn’t difficult to open Paul’s letter and find several passages that show how the Corinthian church, in spite of its errors, still practiced all the essential acts in its meetings, as we do today.

In the letter is also found the miraculous element that existed in the first century. This element was to pass away and cease (1 Cor 13:8-12). But the permanent elements were already present in that moment of time and serve today as wonderful instruction for us.

#1. The Corinthians taught the word of God in their meetings, the same doctrine in all the churches (1 Cor 4:17; 7:17; 11:34b; 12:28). They had the letters of Paul to read (possibly four of them!), as well as the Jewish Scriptures (1 Cor 10:11).

#2. The Corinthians ate the Lord’s supper every week to remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (1 Cor 11:17-34).

#3. The Corinthians prayed to God with the spirit and with the understanding, and everyone said amen (1 Cor 14:15-17). Perhaps they began their meetings with a prayer of gratitude, the same way that Paul began his letters (1 Cor 1:4).

#4. The Corinthians sang hymns to God and edified one another through the songs (1 Cor 14:15).

#5. The Corinthians made offerings of their earnings in their meetings on the first day of the week, in order to help their brethren (1 Cor 16:1-4).

The above text was translated and slightly adapted from my article for next Sunday’s bulletin Vôo da fé (“Soaring Faith”) of the churches in our area.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?