The reader is reminded in these verses that the worshippers at the church in Corinth were a motley bunch! Yes, some were wealthy, middle class and established, but it is clear in chapter 11 v 17-22 that some were poor and many were slaves. And also some had come from very challenging places: it appears that the illicit styles of living which Paul chooses to describe here are selected because they are relevant to the fellowship at Corinth. Please remind yourself that there were huge differences between first century churches and twenty first ones! One would have been the intensity of their relationships and flowing from that their openness. They would have all known each others' pasts. How do we know this? Well, I would say for three reasons: 1. The early church chose to meet every day with each other-Acts 2 v 43-47-they shared everything and the needs of the poor were met by the wealthy, such as Barnabas who sold a piece of land he owned-Acts 4 v 36. They were deeply entwined with one another. 2. Christian believers were faced with persecution. Within the church meeting place there was felt to be security, but the early believers would have lived with the sense that they could be thrown into prison: Acts 12 v 6-17 gives that sense of refuge and safety in contrast to the prison environment which Peter had just escaped. . 3. It was vital that believers lived differently from non-believers. It is hard to imagine how different society was in first century Corinth compared to 21st century England, but there were not the moral constraints to encourage people to live morally good lives; in fact, sometimes the opposite was true and it was clearly understood that men had sex with temple prostitutes, ate food sacrificed to idols and sought their own welfare above anyone else's as a standard practice. However, this passage still speaks powerfully to us today: we too have sinned in similar or entirely different ways than the Corinthians and we have been cleansed and made holy-that means being separated- and our call then is to show in word and deed that we are a separate people, made holy by God.
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