Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
The first book of Corinthians (if you haven’t discussed this yet) is actually Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian Saints (see 1 Cor. 5:9). The first letter did not survive, and neither did the reply written by those Saints to Paul (see 1 Cor. 7:1). Books 1 and 2 of Corinthians are part of what appears to be a continuing dialogue between Paul and the Saints of Corinth — a conversation that may have lasted for some time. Paul wrote more to the Corinthians than to any other branch of the Church. It’s important to note that reading the first book of Corinthians is like walking in on the middle of a conversation but only hearing one voice.
Corinth was the capital of the Roman province Achaia. It was one of the richest and most immoral cities of the world at the time. The people of Corinth worshiped countless Gods and boasted all kinds of aberrant worship and rituals. Church members were still relatively new in Corinth. Old ideas were hard to overcome and you can see why they encountered so much confusion. Paul had to rebuke the Corinthian Saints for their lack of unity, spirit of contention, doubts about the resurrection, abuse of spiritual gifts, usurping of power, and general immorality.
Maybe because the people were so bad, the Corinthian books are so good. They are full of wisdom, with gems of elevated living that remind us again and again how we should be.
Although Christ’s restored church has been thriving now for almost 200 years now, we still experience the same challenges and temptations the Saints of Corinth faced. When we encounter these difficulties, it is helpful to remember the title of this week’s lesson: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”
Activity: Confusion vs. Peace Contrast. Use several audio devices to subtly play different sounds as you start your lesson. Sounds should be audible but not overwhelming. Use a phone to play a podcast. Play one kind of music on one device, a second kind of music on another. Have someone read a book aloud. Have someone else sing a song. Then place one person in the center of the room, right in the middle of the noise.
Ask them to describe what they hear. Can they make out what is being sung or said? How does all the noise make them feel? What voices do they hear? Read the scripture above, plus 1 Corinthians 14:10: “There are so many kinds of voices in the world.” Then on the count of three, turn everything off and keep the room silent for 15 seconds. Ask the person in the middle to describe what they hear, how they feel.
Discuss: Ask your family to describe what confusion feels like. Discuss what peace feels like. Talk about the many voices in the world vying for our attention and time. How do we sift through them and hear the Holy Ghost? How do we know which ones to heed and which ones to ignore?
Setting: Consider teaching this week’s lesson in a peaceful place your family loves to go. The mountains, the beach, an overlook, a quiet grove of trees, the backyard. Draw attention to the peace you feel in this place.
Scriptures to Post or Memorize
Here are my favorite phrases/verses from chapters 14-16. Consider posting some of these somewhere around your house. Maybe give your children the challenge of memorizing a few for a small treat or reward.
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts.” – 1 Corinthians 14:1
“There are… so many kinds of voices in the world.” – 1 Corinthians 14:10
“Be not children in understanding.” – 1 Corinthians 14:20
“Let all things be done unto edifying.” – 1 Corinthians 14:26
“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” – 1 Corinthians 14:33
“By the grace of God I am what I am.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” – 1 Corinthians 15:19
“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:22
“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?” – 1 Corinthians 15: 29
“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” – 1 Corinthians 15:41-42
“O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? …Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:56-57
“Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” – 1 Corinthian 15:58
“Let all your things be done with charity.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14
We Can Seek the Gift of Prophecy
1 Corinthians 14:3 teaches us three purposes of prophecy. It reads, “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”
Discuss: Ask your family to reflect on a time they heard someone prophesy. It could be while reading they were reading the prophecies in scripture or during General Conference. Maybe they recall the words of a Mission President, a Bishop, or even a parent. Ask them to consider the purpose of that prophecy. Help them examine how they felt. Was it for edification, exhortation/teaching, or for comfort? In my experience, it is always one, two, or even three of these purposes in one experience.
Question: Is prophecy a gift only prophets can have? Read 1 Corinthians 14: 31: “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” ALL of us can receive the gift of prophecy. ALL of us, with earnest prayer and practice, can come to understand how that gift works specifically for us. Sometimes we experience this gift through clear, undiluted knowledge that flows into us and we know by the power of the Spirit that it is revelation. Sometimes we see things through visions or dreams. Other times a thought immediately comes into our minds, and when we reflect on it we know without a doubt that it is truth.
I like to think of personal revelation or prophecy like these floating lanterns in the sky. Each light represents a truth meant for a certain individual. Just as each person lets their lantern fly gently into the night, God lets his revelation fall gently and continuously down towards each of us. Softly, quietly, but recognizably. As it settles in our hearts.
I remember as a young woman having a dream once, in which a young man with dark hair was hiking next to me on a trail. I had the impression that this was my husband to be. I did not see his face, nor did I know his name. But sure enough, as my life progressed and I came to know who I should marry, he did indeed have dark hair and we spent many days hiking and exploring trails together, something we both love to do. The purpose? Comfort and exhortation.
Recently, while running with a dear friend on a canyon trail, we were talking about the young women in our ward. As we trotted along, I had the impression that she and I would serve together at some point in the Young Women’s program. Neither of us had ever had the opportunity of serving in Young Womens. We had always been in Relief Society and Primary. I can still remember the exact bend in the trail we were rounding — she was just behind me, and the thought came to me gently, but clearly: we would serve together. But I kept the thought to myself.
A couple months later, I was called as the Young Women’s President. I walked out of the Bishop’s office, and this friend’s name came immediately to my mind. I knew she was to serve with the Laurels and help us wrap up the Personal Progress program as we readied the girls for the new youth program. Her name did not leave my mind when I wrote my list of who I felt should serve in each position. Sometimes I switched names or juggled them around, but hers did not leave the position I had initially felt was right for her. A couple weeks later, when we were set apart, we were given some time to share thoughts and testimony. My friend mentioned that months ago she had had the impression she would serve the Young Women. She didn’t know in what position, but she felt she would serve with me, that we would have this chance to serve together. I was so touched. We had both received, individually and personally, our own prophecy to prepare us for the work we’ll be doing together these next few years.
Another woman in our ward, who I called as a counselor, explained that several months ago she had the prompting to “get her house in order.” She felt that something was coming her way that would require much of her time. So she did just that. She tackled a storage room that had been nagging at her for years. Then when she got wind that a calling was going to be extended to her, she knelt in prayer and told the Lord she was willing to do whatever he asked of her. The purpose in both these examples? Exhortation and instruction.
Most of my experiences with personal prophecy have come without specific asking. God is so very generous. Imagine what we could experience if we prayed daily for the gift of prophecy! He wants us to have these gifts, to develop them and utilize them.
Women in the Church
When we read 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, it is apparent that something is obviously wrong with the text the way we have it. It reads, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak…it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Clearly we do not have a correct translation of these verses. In 1 Corinthians 11:5 women pray and prophesy. In the old testament we have Deborah who is a prophetess. In the four gospels, we see Jesus interacting again and again with women in ways that elevate and esteem them as equal or above in status. And in other new testament epistles or books, we learn of many women who were big players in the work of furthering Christianity and instructing the church. Like Chloe, Priscilla, Tabitha, Lois, Drusilla, Phebe, and Lydia. To name a few. There are additionally a number of women who remain nameless in scripture, but are no less valiant or influential. And today, women speak every Sunday in our meetings, and in our General Conferences.
The Joseph Smith Translation changes the word speak to rule, but even with that clarification, these verses seem hard to swallow. It appears that Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians something about order. His words are not just for women, but for all of us. The church is an orderly organization, subject to priesthood keys that operate and govern the affairs of the church. We are subject to these priesthood keys, and those who hold the keys are in turn, subject to God. No one, male or female, is to usurp priesthood power when it is not given to them.
This piece of artwork was on display at the BYU MOA years ago. It’s by Robert Lewis Reid. It’s called Against the Sky. I love the confidence it portrays, the vision she seems to have, the solace she cherishes in knowing who she is and her inestimable worth.
For one of the best and most exceptional talks I’ve ever heard on the ennobling role of women in the Church, read (or listen to) this talk given by Sister Sharon Eubank at the FAIR Mormon Conference in 2014:
What is Resurrection?
Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians offers us Paul’s testimony of the resurrection. In verse 12 we read that some among them thought there was no resurrection of the dead. Remember the Sadducees, who denied the reality of the resurrection? (They were “sad, you see?”) Some Corinthians, who espoused Greek mythology and philosophy, believed the body was evil. They thought there might be eternal life for the spirit, but not for the body.
Paul teaches the Saints in Corinth that all the other truths of the gospel depend upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I love Ogden and Skinner’s list of paraphrased logic regarding Paul’s preaching on the resurrection:
Verse 13 — if there’s no resurrection, then Christ is dead.
Verse 14 — if there’s no resurrection, then we’re wasting our time, and our faith is terrible joke.
Verse 15 — if there’s no resurrection, then we (apostles) are liars.
Verse 17 — if there’s no resurrection there’s no spiritual redemption and no redemption from physical death (that is resurrection is redemption; see 2 Nephi 9:6-9)
Verse 29 — if there’s no resurrection, why perform baptisms for the dead?
Verse 32 — and finally, if there’s no resurrection, then why am I working so hard, killing myself off? (Verse by Verse Acts through Revelation, Ogden and Skinner, pg. 145)
What a miserable thought it is to believe there is no life after this, no restoration of our bodies that fail, no rekindling of relationships with family and friends. When my mother passed away a couple years ago I remember thinking about the beautiful truth of the resurrection and how all my hopes hang on Jesus. All my longings to be with her again, to see her intact and whole in her body, to laugh with her and hold her hand again, all those desires I have hang desperately and devotedly upon my Jesus, my Redeemer.
Discuss: Talk with your children about what our resurrected bodies will look like. Explain the difference between mortal bodies and resurrected bodies. Read chapter 15 verses 40-42 which state that our resurrected bodies will shine in glory of varying degrees. Ask your children what the words corruptible and incorruptible mean? Find something rusty to demonstrate corruptible, and something shiny/new to demonstrate incorruptible. Like a nail, a coin, or a piece of metal.
Let All Things Be Done with Charity
I love 1 Corinthians 16: 14. In past Corinthian chapters we have talked about the tendency towards division. How Satan loves to divide and separate us from each other. He does this in our wards, stakes, and families. He not only encourages, but revels in tribalism, exclusion, contention, and criticism. We must be careful to catch symptoms of division early on and work to rectify them, do away with them all together. It is simply not God’s way to exclude, leave out, tear down, or diminish. This quote from author Glennon Doyle is so instructive. Especially with kids going back to school:
“If you are standing with other women (men, kids, girls, or boys) in a circle and there is a woman standing alone in your circle’s vicinity — the thing to do is notice her, smile at her, move over a bit and say, “Hi, come join us!” Even if she decides not to join your circle — inviting her is STILL THE RIGHT THING TO DO. This advice is meant for both literal and figurative circles. WIDEN YOUR CIRCLE. ALL THE TIME. Also, horseshoes are better than circles. Leave space. Always leave space. Horseshoes of friends [are greater than] circles of friends. Life can be lonely. Stand in horseshoes.”
Another helpful concept to discuss with your children is the idea of “charitable interpretation.” It is so easy to be offended or to interpret what someone says or does as an affront or a deliberate slight. Sometimes our initial reaction is to think an individual is intentionally ignoring us or unwilling to understand. But most people, I believe, are not trying to offend. What if we interpreted what they said with charity? What if we gave them the benefit of the doubt? Thinking the best possible scenario of what they could have meant? Generous and charitable interpretation can save us from lots of heartache and contention. It can increase unity and give others the chance to rectify or rise to better behavior.
Doer of the Word Challenge
Here are a few ideas of ways you can implement the principles of this week’s lesson into personal or family life.
- Start practicing some kind of daily mindfulness or meditation to invite more peace into your life. This could be a daily walk to a quite place, deep breathing, yoga or stretching, memorizing some kind of positive mantra or scripture, unhurried prayer.
- Try to be aware of concepts or ideas that cross your path this week and assess how they make you feel, what they make you think. Do they generate confusion and doubt? Or peace and understanding? Write them down and identify them.
- Pray each morning for the gift of prophecy. Write down any personal revelation or personal prophecy you feel you receive this week.
- Begin a study of the women of the New Testament. Read all you can about them. Take notes and learn from their lives. I just received a new book that looks like it will be a wonderful resource for this. It’s called Walking with the Women of the New Testament by Heather Farrell.
- Write in your journal about someone you love who has passed away. Write down your testimony of the resurrection and what it means to you when you think about this family member or friend.
- Choose to make all your circles horseshoes. Look for someone who needs including and bring them in. Do some role-playing with your children on how to invite others to join you for a conversation or activity. Treat others with kindness and compassion. Inclusion is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally, but it can be practiced and learned.