This is a brief overview of 1 Corinthians as the apostle Paul taught believers and according to the apostolic traditions handed down to believers that are seldom practiced in our churches today (1 Cor.4:17; 11:1-2).
The apostle Paul writes the book of 1 Corinthians to the believers or the church not to a bishop, elder, overseer, priest, pastor, building, or a church board (1 Cor. 1:2). They were to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment, there was to be no division among them (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3-4). Yet today, there are over 133,000 denominations in the body of Christ all with different beliefs and practices not including independent churches. Paul calls the Corinthian believers to imitate him, and that Timothy would remind them of his ways in Christ as he taught everywhere in every church (1 Cor. 4:16-17).
The “Priesthood of All Believers” was taught that allowed every to participate and function by ministering to one another on an equal foundation of Christ alone. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 the apostle Paul instructs the believers or the church how to deal with a believer who is involved in sexual immorality and are unrepentant. Believers should have already brought correction, instruction, exhortation, warnings, rebuke, and admonition to those involved in the sin of sexual immorality (Rom. 15:14; Eph. 5: 19-21; Col. 3: 16-17; Heb. 6:10; James 5:19-20; 1 Peter 4:10-11). It was not the bishop, elder, overseer, pastor, priests, or a board responsibility. It was every believer’s responsibility to participate and function in ministry by ministering to one another.
The apostle Paul instructs the believers how to discipline the sinning brother in Christ who is unrepentant and willfully living in gross sin. Paul then tells the believers “when you are gathered together,” putting the responsibility of disciplining the brother involved in sexual immorality in the hands of believers, not a bishop, elder, overseer, priest, pastor, or a church board (1 Cor. 5:4-5). Notice, the apostle Paul was writing to the church or believers when he said, “when you are gathered together” not a pastor, bishop, overseer, elder, priest, or a church board. This is the “Priesthood of All Believers” with every believer participating and functioning in the church on an equal basis responsibility. Interestingly, most churches to not follow the apostolic traditions handed down by the apostles, yet they came to do everything according to the Bible.
Paul calls the believers to follow or imitate him, just as he imitated Christ and to remember him in all things and to keep the traditions has he had given them (1 Cor. 11:1-2). Paul then speaks of the diversities of gifts, differences of ministries, and the diversities of activities, but that it is the same God who works all in all (1 Cor. 12: 4-6). Paul goes on to reveal the body is made up of many members who are one body, so also is Christ. Paul goes on to say that there should be no schism or division in the body, but that all members should have the same care for one another (1 Cor. 12: 12-26).
In 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul desires to show the believers a more excellent way in 1 Corinthians chapter 13:1-13, the way of love. The Word of God declares in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12, that at the present moment we know in part, and we prophesy in part, and we see thru a mirror dimly. However, at the coming or revelation of Jesus Christ , or when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away with, and we will no longer know in part, prophesy in part , or see thru a mirror dimly. At His coming we will see Him face to face and know as we are also known (1 Cor.13:9-12). Sadly, many in the body of Christ don’t believe the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts are for today. They have forgotten Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and that the word of God lives and abides forever (Mal. 3:13; Heb.13:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25). They have forgotten the same promise is for us today according to Acts 2:39, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” The Lord is still calling people into His kingdom today, so the same promise is still in effect (Acts 8: 12, 15-16; 10: 44-48; 19: 5-6). They have forgotten they are called to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). They have forgotten the word of Paul in Galatians 1:8 saying, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you, let him be accursed.”
In 1 Corinthians 14:23-33, when the whole church came together according to verse 23 each one of the believers was to have a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, or an interpretation for the edification, profit ,or benefit of all the believers (1 Cor. 14:26). For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged (1 Cor. 14:31). All believers were allowed to participate and function by ministering to one another on an equal basis, no one person was to lead the meeting.
Paul goes on to say to the believers, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, by steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). This was written to the believers not to a bishop, elder, or a pastor, there was no one man leading the meeting, and the priesthood of all believers was allowed to participate and function ministering to one another.
Paul then ends by saying, “The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” Notice, the church met in their house and continued to meet in houses or homes of believers for the first three hundred years of the churches existence (Acts 16: 15, 40; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phm. 1:2).
Most of the churches today do not function according to the apostolic traditions taught by the apostles. The priesthood of all believers is primarily a theology that many believers and leaders in the body of Christ only give lip service to, yet many fail to practice in their churches. In the majority of the churches today, we have one man leading and controlling the meeting while the other believers sit passively and are not allowed to speak. At best a few are allowed to share their testimony and or a spiritual gift. May we study, learn, and return to the original apostolic traditions of doing truly biblical church.