Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

In the Bible, many of the epistles are in order of length.

Despite having kicked-off with the first of these – Romans – late last night, the following afternoon found me trawling the internet for a list of these books in chronological order. I’m not saying that chronological is necessarily better, just that that was the order in which I preferred to read them, this time round. For example, I wondered if it might be possible to discern Paul’s Christian faith building through the years.

Unfortunately, the sites that I found didn’t generally give me straight full answers, and I found some of their preachiness so off-putting that in the end I just gave up and continued to read them in the traditional order. Oh well, maybe it won’t make much difference.

Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.

- 1 Corinthians 16:1 (NIV)


At one point I thought a similar joke had bitten Paul:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

- Romans 12:14 (NIV)

If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him.

- 1 Corinthians 16:22a (NIV)

Again – D’oh!

But in retrospect I can see that I'd just read him out of context:

If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord[In Aramaic the expression Come, O Lord is Marana tha.]!

- 1 Corinthians 16:22 (NIV)

I think Paul was just cracking an ironic joke – "Come, O Lord" is hardly a curse, but the opposite.

And speaking of blessings, right from the off, there are some good, encouraging sections in here:

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

- 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (NIV)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

- 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

- 1 Corinthians 15:35-38 (NIV)

Yet this is also a fairly controversial book…

Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

- 1 Corinthians 7:17 (NIV)

(back to the callcentre then)

A man ought not to cover his head,[Or A man ought not to have long hair ] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

- 1 Corinthians 11:7-10 (NIV)

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

- 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 (NIV)

[NOTE: The above quotes are obviously also out of context. If you have a problem with them, go read the rest of the Bible yerself.]

I have to admit that none of those familiar quotes really phase me these days, simply because I’ve heard them so often before. The one that perhaps should challenge me though is the first one, because I have such a passion for trying out new stuff. (I guess that means I feel less stirred about equal rights – sorry.)

The passage that I did feel challenged by today though was this one:

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

- 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NIV)

I don’t know if “please his wife” is a euphemism, but the implication here and elsewhere in 1 Corinthians is that marriage is only for those who can’t cut it being single. Which obviously muddies mankind’s biological aim.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

- 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 (NIV)

As a single 37-year-old guy whose unanimous rejections have left me hardly "burning with passion" but literally quaking in terror at girls, I don’t find this any comfort at all. I can’t deny that singleness has resulted in my having lots of spare time for God, but it’s still not what I choose. I always wanted to marry a nice Christian girl so that we could be "concerned about the Lord's affairs" together. That still seems like a much better idea.

Maybe we're back to chapter 1 verse 27b...

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.


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