1 Corinthians - Lesson 3

By Stafford North


Background Information for the Teacher


1. The student can explain the problem of division in the Corinthian church.

2. The student can show how this is contrary to the principle of love.

3. The student can explain the harmful effects of division on a congregation.

4. The student can suggest practical ways to promote unity within a congregation.


  1. Each student should have a Bible.
  2. Each student should have a copy of the Worksheet and a pencil/pen.
  3. Have ready a board for writing key words and statements.
  4. Have verses to read ready to hand out before class.
  5. Have Review Quiz over Lesson 2 ready to distribute at the first of class or as people enter.Theme: Paul urges the Corinthians to mend their divisions, to be one body, and to believe the same thing. Such teaching is very important for churches today.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (about 10 minutes)

  1. Call the roll and introduce visitors.
  2. Make necessary announcements.
  3. Sing some songs if you wish and have a prayer. Songs related to the lesson would be “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” “Bind Us Together, Lord,” “Love OneAnother,” “Blest Be the Tie.”
  4. Give the answers to the Review Quiz as a way of reviewing the previous lesson. Encourage students to complete the worksheet on the lesson today so they can prepare for the Review Quiz next week.

Learning Experience (about 20 minutes)

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. Q: How does Paul describe the situation in theCorinthian church? A: There are divisions among them according to who had baptized them, which may indicate divisions between the first converts when Paul was there and later converts who came under the teaching or influence of others.Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Q: What types of sinful behavior does Paul say are taking place in this division? A: Jealousy and quarreling.
  2. Q: From what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 what can we learn about how to approach church problems today? A: (Try to draw from the class such observations as these: (1) Paul begins with an appeal for unity in the name of theLord Jesus, (2) Paul states clearly the goal toward which he calls them-that all will agree, that there will be no divisions and that they will be perfectly united in mind and thought. (3) Paul stated the facts in the case and the source from which the information came-he was not dealing in rumors; (4) Paul deals with the problem directly and openly. In such things he set us a good example in dealing with church problems.)
  3. From chapter 1 through chapter 4, Paul makes his call for unity among the quarreling brethren in Corinth. Let’s study some passages in which he makes his case and recognize the various appeals he makes. Read 1 Corinthians 1:23. Q:To what does Paul call them in this verse? A: Paul calls for the Corinthians to focus on the most important thing and one on which they all could agree-Christ and Him crucified-and not on their differences.
  4. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26. Q: What appeal does Paul make in this verse? A:Paul calls for the Corinthians to remember what Christ has done for them-they were of little account and now they are the people of God. In verse 31, Paul says this is what they should be most proud of-not something about which they are quarreling.
  5. Read 1 Corinthians 2:13. Q: What appeal does Paul make in this verse? A:Paul calls on the Corinthians to recognize that the message he and others inspired by the Holy Spirit have brought them is in “words taught by the Spirit.” They should heed what he had taught them and will teach them because the message is from the mind of God revealed to His prophets through the Holy Spirit.
  6. Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-5. Q: What appeal does Paul make in these verses? A:Paul calls the Corinthians to rise above worldly thinking and to be spiritually mature. Worldly people fight over which preacher is greater or which of God’s servants presents the best message or can do the greatest miracles. They must recognize, however, that individual workers in the kingdom are nothing-all are working together to serve God.
  7. Read 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16-17. Q: To what does Paul compare the church? A:The temple of God. Q: In what ways is the church like a temple? A: It really isGod’s building, it belongs to Him. The Spirit of God dwells in it. It is sacred. Q:How will God treat one who would destroy His physical temple? A: God will destroy him. Q: What happens, then, to one who destroys the church, also God’s temple. A: He will be destroyed. Q: How would one destroy the church today?A: By sowing division and discord among brethren over matters that are not of ultimate consequence. Of course one should always stand for the gospel but no one should bring discord in the temple of God, the church, over matters that are not about eternal salvation.
  8. Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. Q: To what conduct is Paul calling the Christians here? A: He is asking them not to pass judgment on others in regard to eternal salvation, but to leave that to the Lord. Q: Does Paul ever call on Christians to“judge” others in some sense? A: Yes. He says they should judge the immoral brother in chapter 5. Read 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Q: Does Paul violate his own command about judgment in what he says about these false teachers? A: No.Paul uniformly condemns false teachers, those who would lead Christians into apostasy. Q: What has love to do with this? A: Love calls us to treat everyone fairly and kindly, even those with whom we may disagree seriously. We still might, after exercising other options, have to discipline a brother or sister who is in sin or who gives false teaching, but even then our action would be taken for his/her benefit and not out of anger toward them.
  9. Read 1 Corinthians 4:14-16. Q: What appeal does Paul make in this verse? A:You are my children. We are a family. Let’s act like a family and be united.

Application: (about 15 minutes)

  1. Let us suppose that a controversy has arisen in a congregation about a fifty-five year old elder who some say has been visiting at length in the home of a widow who is fifty. Q. How might Paul’s advice help with this situation? A: (1) Other elders should quickly determine the facts in the case. (2) They should visit with the elder and ask for his comments. If he says he has committed no immorality but that he realizes he should not have been there by himself, this information should be made known. If, on the other hand, he plans to continue such visit seven if they will create problems, then the other elders will have to decide the best action to take. He should be reminded that it is a very serious matter to create discord in the church even if he has not sinned with the woman. (3) If the matter is widely known already, it should be dealt with directly and openly. (4) All must be done in love for the widow, for the elder, and for the congregation.
  2. Q: From Paul’s message to the Corinthian church, what suggestions do you have for our congregation about unity and how to have it? A: (The class should come up with suggestions like: (1) We should help people realize that the most important thing is our ultimate salvation in heaven and controversies over things that do not affect this are not worth creating problems in the church. (2) We should teach about the importance of unity even in times of peace. (3) If we deal with each other in love and humility rather than pride or jealousy or selfishness,then we can reduce the amount of friction that will arise. (4) We need to have trust in each other because everyone cannot know about everything going on in the congregation.


  1. Use your worksheet to help prepare for your Review Quiz next week.
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 10:16-22, 11:17-34, and all of chapter 14.

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