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                  Bible students are aware of the fact that much of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians deals with times when they came “together as a church”, when they met “together” (1 Cor. 11:18, 20).  We know that in chapter 11 Paul dealt with the general topic of subjection as exhibited in whether or not a woman was required to wear a covering and with problems they were having in the way they were observing the Lord’s Supper.  In chapters 12, 13, and 14 Paul addressed the issue of miraculous spiritual gifts, what their attitude toward them should be, and what their attitude toward each other should be.  In chapter 14 Paul focused on instructions that would help them to do all things “properly and in an orderly manner” if “therefore the whole church should assemble together” (1 Cor. 14:40, 23).


                  Paul was primarily addressing the times when the congregation assembled for worship; what they were to do and how they were to conduct themselves at those times.  Interestingly, Paul wrote concerning the Lord’s Supper, prayer and singing, teaching and giving (1 Cor. 16:1-2).


                  In chapter 14, after writing about the orderly exercise of spiritual gifts in their assemblies, Paul wrote in verses 33-37, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.  Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says.  And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.  Was it from you that the word of God first went forth?  Or has it come to you only?  If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.”


                  It is not my purpose to address the place of women in the worship assemblies, but rather to notice an aspect of Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians that is not often discussed.  The confusion and lack of order that characterized the assemblies of the Corinthians was not happening in all of the other churches.  In v. 33 Paul wrote, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”  That phrase brings to mind a statement Paul made earlier in 4:15-17, “For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.  For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.”  There was a consistency of teaching and a pattern to be followed by all of the churches wherever they were.  What was happening in Corinth was different from what was taking place in all of the other churches.


                  In 14:36 Paul made a very interesting point.  He asked the Corinthians, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth?  Or has it come to you only?”  What did he mean by that?  Quite simply if the gospel originated with the Corinthians, then the other churches were wrong because what they were doing was different from what the Corinthians were doing.  If the gospel came to the Corinthians from some other place or source, and their practice was different from all the other churches, then they were wrong.  Paul went on to make the point that those who would present themselves as being particularly spiritual or who presented themselves as spokesmen of God had to acknowledge that what Paul was writing to them were, in fact, the commandments of the Lord and not something of his own devising.


                  I believe that there is a practical lesson to be learned for us today from Paul’s statements found in 1 Corinthians 14:33, 36.  Those who would feel free to change any aspect of the Lord’s pattern for the church, whether we are talking about worship, the organization of the church, the work in which the church is authorized to engage, or the terms of admission into the body, need to answer a simple question, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth?”


                  The truth is that there is only one gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was delivered in its entirety with the conclusion of the book of Revelation.  No one has the right to add to it or take away from it.  No one has the right to change it in any way.  If they add to it, “God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book.”  If they take away from it, “God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).


                  Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6-10, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”


                  It is a serious matter to tamper with God’s word in anyway.  If you should find yourself chafing under what you might perceive as its restrictions and limitations, or if what you desire is different from what is being done in all other faithful churches of the Lord’s people, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth?”



Greg Litmer