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The Rest of the Story

posted Apr 30, 2015, 12:22 PM by First Baptist



For those who worship at First Baptist Harlan, we just finished an 18-week study of I Corinthians.


You’ll recall that the apostle Paul started the church in Corinth circa 49 AD. He remained there until 51 AD and then went to Ephesus. While in Ephesus, he wrote the church in Corinth a letter – primarily having to do (we believe) with sexual immorality in the church. We don’t have a copy of this letter.


In response to Paul’s letter, the church wrote him a letter, hand-delivered by three church members. The church’s letter was combative. They didn’t like Paul’s meddling, nor did they think Paul quite measured up to their new pastor, as well as some of the “philosophers” in & around Corinth.


I Corinthians was Paul’s response to the church’s letter and, as we discovered, he dealt with a number of issues and problems in the church.


At the end of the letter, Paul wrote about his desire to visit them, but didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry. He was going to finish up his work in Ephesus and then do some traveling through Macedonia before stopping in Corinth. Meanwhile, it appears from I Cor. 16:10 that he planned on sending Timothy to minister in Corinth for awhile.


What Actually Happened


It turns out that Paul made an “emergency” visit to Corinth. The speculation is that Timothy had reported back to Paul that the situation in Corinth was deteriorating.


The emergency visit did not go well!


Evidently, the church was even more combative toward Paul and they openly defied him. In deep distress & sorrow, Paul returned to Ephesus and wrote the church another letter, which he had Titus deliver. (Like the first letter, this letter was not preserved.)


Sometime after, Paul met up with Titus, who reported good news: In response to Paul’s latest letter, the Corinthian believers had repented of their sin and re-affirmed their loyalty to Paul over & against some false teachers who had infiltrated the church.


This brought great joy to Paul’s heart and he wrote the Corinthian church yet another letter (this would be his fourth), which we know today as II Corinthians. His joy is evident in II Cor. 7:6, where he writes:


But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.



It’s interesting to know the background to the New Testament epistles. We sometimes forget that each of them has a context.


The situation in Corinth also reminds us that churches sometimes go through difficult seasons. To Paul’s credit, he never gave up on the Corinthian church, even though he’d been badly mistreated. Eventually, by the grace of God, Paul’s love for them won out and reconciliation took place.


Pastor Dan