1 Corinthians 1-9: Challenging church
Even today, Jesus is still a figure of intense interest and admiration for millions. But then there’s His church. Church is a boring topic for most, and a reluctantly fulfilled duty for many.
And we can understand why. Churches say they have the best news in the world, that they have the answer to our problems, that they are God’s embassies on earth; and yet churches are made up of people like you and me, who are grumpy, irritable, unfaithful, selfish, and worse.
And as that is sadly true of churches today, so it was of the church in Corinth. It was young, it was full of life, and it was just as full of problems. What would God say to such a challenging church? What did they need to be excited by, to listen to, to learn?
Use this seven-study guide to open up the first nine chapters of the letter of 1 Corinthians, to hear what God said to His church in Corinth, and what God still says to His church today.
“Mark Dever has been a leader of church reform for many years now, and nobody I know has thought more carefully about the church. That’s why I’m thrilled the Good Book Company is publishing Mark’s helpful study guide to 1 Corinthians, because no book of the Bible says more about the church. No doubt, Mark has acquired these insights through many years of hard labor both in the Scriptures and in the church. Whether you are a church leader or a faithful member, this guide will help you understand and apply 1 Corinthians to your life and the life of your church. I highly recommend it.”
- Greg Gilbert, Author and Pastor
"Here is a pastorally sensitive and well-earthed guide to nine hard-hitting and practical chapters from Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth. The bible-handling is careful, the questions are accessible, and the pointers to application are striking for their realism and penetration. This study guide comes from the day-to-day experience of a practising pastor and will be of great help to Christians (and especially group leaders) seeking to learn from the first half of this ancient and yet amazingly contemporary letter."
- Christopher Ash, Director, Cornhill Training Course
Mark Dever's series of studies on 1 Corinthians 1-9 are a welcome addition to the excellent Good Book Guide Series. It combines excellent questions which point the reader to the heart of the message and its application along with faithful and accessible notes.
- Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe's, Oxford and Director of the Proclamation Trust UK
'Mark Dever's studies in 1 Corinthians will help individuals or groups get to grips with the message of this challenging letter. The seven studies have clear questions that get right to the heart of the text. The leader's guide at the end provides extra help that will make these studies accessible to people who may be studying this for the first time. A great resource'
- Justin Mote, Chairman of the North West Gospel Partnership.
"These studies tackle core issues in life together as God's people - what we stand for and how live together. They blend careful examination of the text and searching application to our lives. Accessible, punchy, clear and convicting about real church life."
- Graham Beynon, Associate Pastor (Church Plant), Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge
This outstanding study guide to 1 Corinthians 1-9 both helps the readers to feed for themselves and to understand and apply even the most tricky parts of the text.
I thoroughly recommend it.
- William Taylor, Rector, St Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate
The Good Book Guides have been developed to ensure that each session not only seeks to uncover the meaning of the passage and see how it fits into the big picture of the Bible, but also leads people to apply what they have learnt to their lives. Flexible and practical, the Good Book Guides are ideal for small groups, or individual study.
"The format is very user-friendly and the content is rich and accessible."
- Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition blogger and Vice-President of Editorial, Crossway
"God-centered, application-oriented, and driven by the text throughout, this resource is a gift to God’s church."
- Matt Smethurst, Gospel Coalition reviewer and Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Here at Covenant Life Church, we have greatly benefitted from the small group resources from The Good Book Company. Many small groups in our family life ministry have used "Colossians: Confident Christianity" in their study of scripture. Additionally, our youth ministry has used "Romans 1-5: God and You" in their small groups. Both resources were very easy to use, helped the reader engage directly with the scriptures, and had a wonderful pastoral emphasis demonstrated in all the questions.
- Dave Brewer, Youth Pastor at Covenant Life Church, Maryland
Table of contents
- Why study 1 Corinthians?
- 1. Count your blessings - 1 Corinthians 1 v 1-9
- 2. Unite in "foolishness" - 1 Corinthians 1 v 10 - 2 v 16
- 3. Unite as God's community - 1 Corinthians 3
- 4. Recognise real ministers - 1 Corinthians 4
- 5. Don't go soft on sin - 1 Corinthians 5 - 6
- 6. Let your calling count - 1 Corinthians 7
- 7. Use your rights - 1 Corinthians 8 - 9
- Leader's Guide
|Dimensions||140mm x 210mm|
|No. of studies||7|
|Publisher||The Good Book Company/GBG|
Covers the ground well
There are seven studies, and at least one can be divided into two.
I particularly liked:
- Mark Dever does a very good job of taking us through some large chunks of text, without skipping anything, and yet without getting bogged down.
- From the second study onwards there is a 'story so far'. It's a small thing but it reminds everyone that these studies are part of a whole.
- As with previous study guides, there are leaders' notes at the back. One small thing I especially liked was that in the leaders' guide, the questions are repeated, instead of only giving the question number.
We will be using this guide for our bible studies in the autumn - alongside the preaching.
I highly recommend it.
Mark Dever has been a leader of church reform for many years now, and nobody I know has thought more carefully about the church. That’s why I’m thrilled the Good Book Company is publishing Mark’s helpful study guide to 1 Corinthians, because no book of the Bible says more about the church. No doubt, Mark has acquired these insights through many years of hard labor both in the Scriptures and in the church. Whether you are a church leader or a faithful member, this guide will help you understand and apply 1 Corinthians to your life and the life of your church.
Avoid this book
Unless you run a house group full of people who have never had problems I would avoid this book at all costs. If you have any women, divorcees, or people married to unbelievers be prepared to have people hurt as the book is written with a lack of sensitivity, indeed a harshness, which defies belief. It is not often as a house group leader I actually have to say to the group that we are going to have to stop using the book but this is the case in this instance. Very disappointed.
Thank you for your feedback—and sorry that you found the Bible-study guide so unhelpful. As I edited this particular Good Book Guide, I thought it helpful that I respond on Mark Dever's behalf.
I'm assuming that your unhappiness is with one particular study, number six, on 1 Corinthians 7. Mark did include a couple of notes in the leader's guide, explaining that "these are tricky and emotive issues" and suggesting that "it may be wise to talk to particular individuals before this study, so they know the topic is coming up". I am sorry that you felt the GBG was written with a lack of sensitivity and harshness—again, I assume you are referring to the leader's guide rather than the study guide (which simply asks questions) unfortunately space is at a premium, and so the Leader's Guide is aiming to help leaders to understand the Bible clearly (which I think this study does), and to flag up any pastorally sensitive issues (which this study also does) so that leaders can use their own sensitivity and gentleness to guide their group through challenging parts of Scripture.
All our Good Book Guides are trialled by a house group before they were published. This one was used by a group who are certainly not "without problems", and which contained women and people married to non-Christians. While not at all wishing to suggest that your comment is unfounded with regard to your own group, I think it's right to mention that the trialling group found this study helpful; challenging, yes, and difficult to grapple with how God wanted them to live as His people; but faithful, clear, and not changing Scripture to make it more palatable.
I hope that you and your group found the other six sessions useful and biblically faithful. Do please let me know if there are any parts of study six which you feltht were unbiblical, and if it were the case that the studies obscured or confused the clear teaching of 1 Corinthians, we would of course make changes in the reprint.