The Apostle Paul explained to the Saints in Corinth the roles of missionaries in building up God’s kingdom. He taught that their congregations were places where the Spirit could dwell and urged them not to think some people are better than others. Furthermore, Paul cautioned them against allowing wicked people to influence them. He also warned them to avoid the immoral philosophies and practices frequently found in Corinth.
Imagine that a friend signs up to take an advanced math class, like calculus, but has not taken the preparatory courses, like basic algebra.
Consider how successful your friend would be in the advanced math class. Why is it necessary to understand the basic ideas of a subject before you can master the more advanced concepts?
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1–3, looking for the analogy the Apostle Paul used to show the Saints in Corinth that they were not yet ready for additional gospel truths. You may want to mark the words milk and meat in 1 Corinthians 3:2.
What does the phrase “babes in Christ” in 1 Corinthians 3:1 suggest about the spiritual maturity of the Corinthian Saints?
Remember that the Saints in Corinth were not unified and that some of them included pagan (ungodly) beliefs and practices in their observance of the gospel. They had also begun dividing into groups based on differing interpretations of Church doctrine, and they supported their points of view by quoting prominent Church leaders (see 1 Corinthians 1:10–16; 3:4).
Read 1 Corinthians 3:5–8, looking for the metaphor Paul used to help the Saints understand the roles of the missionaries who had brought the gospel to Corinth.
In your scripture study journal, draw a picture of Paul’s metaphor and write what you think Paul was trying to teach the Corinthian Saints with this metaphor.
Notice in 1 Corinthians 3:6–7 who it is that causes the changes in people’s hearts that lead to conversion. We can learn from these verses that while we can help others learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is through the power of the Holy Ghost that people are converted.
Ponder why it is important for us to understand that it is God’s power, not ours, that converts.
In 1 Corinthians 3:9–23 we learn that Paul urged the Saints in Corinth to build the foundation of their faith on Jesus Christ and to allow the Spirit to dwell in the Church. Paul also counseled the Saints not to depend on worldly wisdom because it is “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 3:19) compared to God’s wisdom.
Based on the Apostle Paul’s counsel recorded in 1 Corinthians 4:1–3, it appears that some members of the Church in Corinth had judged Paul’s performance as a missionary and Church leader. They may have questioned his judgment or thought someone else might have done a better job.
As recorded in 1 Corinthians 4:3–5, Paul taught that the Lord would be his judge and would “bring to light … hidden things” and “make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Corinthians 4:5). From this we can learn that despite others’ judgments of us, the Lord will judge us fairly because He knows all things, including the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
In 1 Corinthians 4:6–21 we learn that Paul told the Saints in Corinth not to be proud of one of their Church leaders at the expense of another. He also told them that the Apostles of Jesus Christ are called to suffer because of the wickedness of the world. The world judges the Apostles and other Church leaders to be “fools” (1 Corinthians 4:10) for seeking to follow Christ. Paul then taught that the kingdom of God is led by God’s power through those who hold priesthood keys.
Imagine you have a bowl of fresh fruit with one rotten piece of fruit in it.
What would happen if you allowed the rotten piece of fruit to remain in the bowl with the other fruit?
What could the rotten piece of fruit represent in our lives?
As you study 1 Corinthians 5, look for truths that can help you better respond to harmful influences in your life.
Read 1 Corinthians 5:1–2, looking for a sin that the Corinthian Saints had not taken any disciplinary action against.
Fornication refers to any sexual relations outside of marriage. It appears that one of the Church members in Corinth had engaged in sexual sin with his stepmother.
The phrase “taken away from among you” in 1 Corinthians 5:2 means the sinner should be excommunicated from the Church. Church leaders carefully consider many factors before excommunication or any other Church discipline takes place. In addition to considering how serious the transgression is, Church leaders consider the various purposes for Church discipline: to help a person repent, to protect those who would be negatively affected by a person’s actions or beliefs, and to protect the integrity of the Church’s teachings (see “Church Discipline,” mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-discipline).
Read 1 Corinthians 5:6–7, looking for the analogy the Apostle Paul used to explain why this individual needed to lose his membership in the Church.
Leaven, or yeast, causes bread to rise. It also causes bread to spoil or become moldy. The lump of dough represents The Church of Jesus Christ. How would you summarize the meaning of this analogy?
From Paul’s analogy we can learn the following truth: If we choose to closely associate with those who embrace sin, we can be influenced by their wickedness.
Consider how Paul’s teaching relates to the bowl of fruit with one rotten piece of fruit in it.
To further understand Paul’s counsel to not keep company with fornicators or others who refuse to repent of sin, read the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Do not company with fornicators—not because you are too good for them but, as [C. S.] Lewis wrote, because you are not good enough. Remember that bad situations can wear down even good people” (“The Stern but Sweet Seventh Commandment,” New Era, June 1979, 42).
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What are some examples of bad situations that can wear down good people so that they compromise their standards and accept sinful behavior?
We should seek to help and inspire people who are struggling with sin without compromising our own standards. Prayerfully consider what you can do to influence others in a positive way without compromising your standards.
In 1 Corinthians 5:12–13 we learn that Church leaders have a responsibility to judge and, if needed, excommunicate those who commit serious transgressions.
Ancient Corinth had a reputation for immorality, and many Corinthians promoted the idea that our bodies were made for pleasure. In 1 Corinthians 6:13–17, the Apostle Paul taught the Corinthian Saints that our bodies were created to accomplish the Lord’s purposes, not to engage in sexual sin or even merely to enjoy physical pleasures, such as food. Those who join the Church become one with Christ as spiritual “members” of His body. Sexual immorality is incompatible with a spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.
Read 1 Corinthians 6:18–20, looking for what Paul taught about our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way to help you locate it in the future.)
Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Ponder how understanding these truths about our bodies can help you remain pure when you are surrounded by wickedness.
To help you memorize this scripture mastery passage, repeat the lines below, covering up some of them with a paper as you become familiar with the words. Continue to repeat the passage until you have it memorized. Then recite the passage to a family member or friend and ask them to sign your scripture study journal.
know ye not that your body is the temple
of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God,
and ye are not your own?
 For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit,
which are God’s.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 1 Corinthians 3–6 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: