1 Corinthians - Lesson 6

By Stafford North


Background Information for the Teacher


1. The student can explain what Paul teaches about “unselfishness” as an out growth of “love.”

2. The student can cite two applications Paul makes in 1 Corinthians of unselfishness in life situations.

3. The student will determine to be more unselfishness in his/her relationships with others.


  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 on which to write key words and ideas.
  4. Have verses to read ready to hand out before class.
  5. Have Review Quiz over Lesson 5 ready to distribute at the first of class or as people enter.


Paul’s admonition to unselfishness bears on all our life relationships and we need to be taking steps to become more unselfish.

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 “Love One Another,” “Bind Us Together,” “Blest Be the Tie,” “How Sweet, How Heavenly.”
  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 Experiences: (about 25 minutes)

  1. (Write on the board-Love = Unselfishness.) Let’s begin today by looking at Paul’s description of love. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. It would be oversimplifying a bit to say that “love” and “unselfishness” are the same thing, but the qualities of love which Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 certainly have a close connection with unselfishness. Let’s look at each of the qualities he lists here to determine to what extent this is true. Q: Give an example of someone being patient. A: (Something like-a child keeps asking “Are we there yet? And the father patiently says, “Not yet but we are getting closer” instead of saying, “If you ask me again I’m gonna whip you.”) Q: In what way is this patience also an example of unselfishness? A: The person is thinking more about another’s good than his/her own.
  2. Next Paul says, “love is kind.” Q: What is an example of a kind deed? Q: In what way is this kindness also an example of unselfishness?
  3. Next Paul says, love does not envy. Q: What is an example of envy? Q: Would unselfishness help us avoid such envy?
  4. The next quality of love is that it does not “boast.” Q: Give an example of boasting. Q: Would unselfishness help us avoid such thoughts about ourselves?
  5. Paul next says love is “not rude.” Q: What is an example of rude behavior? Q:Would unselfishness affect such behavior?
  6. Paul then says “love is not self-seeking.” This, of course, is another way of saying “love is unselfish. One who loves, looks more to the things of others than to himself/herself.
  7. “Love is not easily angered.” Q: Give an example of angry behavior. Q: How would unselfishness help one not to behave in this way?
  8. Paul says, Love “keeps no record of wrongs.” Q: What is an example of this behavior? Q: How would unselfishness speak to such an attitude?
  9. Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. Q: Describe a situation today in which a Christian might be called on to forego his/her rights in order to keep peace in the church or to avoid harming the church in the public eye. A: (Something like—Two Christians have a disagreement over whether one has paid all of a debt one owed the other.) Q: According to Paul, how would Christians go about working through this problem? A: The two parties would work on settling the issue with both exercising unselfishness. If they could not come to an agreement, they would ask a Christian brother, or maybe three Christian brothers, to assist them incoming to an agreement with both of them still showing a spirit of unselfishness. In this manner, the matter should be settled without their having to go to court.(Note to the teacher-there is probably not time to give a long discussion to the issue of whether a Christian could ever go to court with a brother. If this comes up, the answer probably lies is the attitude of the parties. If both are being unselfish, there are still sometimes legal matters that need to be settled and that would not violate the spirit of this command. If one Christian should run into another Christian’s car, for example, this passage would not preclude them from letting the two insurance companies settle the claim if both Christians have a good spirit. Paul’s point here is more one of the Christian attitude of unselfishness than it is the technicalities of “going to law.”)
  10. Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. (Note to the teacher-you will need to decide whether this point is appropriate for your class. It deals with the matter of the spirit of the husband and wife in sexual matters.) Q: In what way does Paul suggest that unselfishness has a part in the married life of two Christians? A: That in the matter of their sexual relationship each should be seeking to please the other ahead of self. Q: How would this admonition correspond with the social norms of that day? A: It exalts the position of women to suggest that each has a right to equal satisfaction from the marriage. Such was not the typical view in the first century. Q: What does Paul’s position here suggest about the role of sexual relations within the marriage? A: Paul does not suggest, as do some, that sexual intimacy in a marriage is only for the purpose of bearing children. It is, rather, for the mutual satisfaction and pleasure of the marriage partners and serves as a very important bonding power within the marriage. God planned the sexual union to be an integral part of the marriage union and expects the marriage partners to“become one” as they bond in this way. Q: What does Paul suggest here about the frequency of sexual relationships within the marriage? A: By mutual consent, the two may suspend their normal relations in order to spend a special time in prayer (and maybe fasting), but then they are to come together again. This would suggest that their intimate relationships would be frequent enough that a period of prayer would cause postponement and, thus, that their sexual relations would be rather frequent. Obviously each married couple must work out their own plan for such matters but Paul’s point here is that each should be unselfish with his/her partner in such matters. The spirit of unselfishness in a sexual union gives it a special meaning within the marriage.

Application: (10 minutes)

  1. Q: In what other facets of life do we need to exercise unselfishness? A: (Such things as parent-child, husband-wife; employer-worker; teacher-student; elder member;preacher-elder; neighbor to neighbor; salesperson-client; fan-umpire; and many others. Try to get people to be as specific as possible.)
  2. Q: What could each of us do to promote a more unselfish spirit in ourselves and our families?


  1. Use the Worksheet to prepare for the Review Quiz next week.
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-13 and 4:1-6 in preparation for next week’s lesson.

6. A “gift” today means we have an ___ from God to use as He gives us _____.

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