What did Paul teach ‘everywhere in every church’?

Here’s a thought.

What did Paul teach “everywhere in every church”? Jesus as the Son of David, the atoning death of Jesus on a cross, his resurrection and enthronement as Lord, justification by faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the unity of the family of God across racial and social lines, the law of love, future judgment at the feet of Jesus. Paul taught these things with enough consistency that we can safely say he never failed to communicate them to his congregations.

But none of these things is the correct answer. The answer is that Paul teaches “my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Cor 4:17).

In 1 Cor 4, Paul describes these “ways in Christ” and contrasts them with the mind-set the Corinthians have inherited from the world around them:

We are fools for the sake of Christ
We are weak
We in disrepute
We are hungry and thirsty,
We are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and
We grow weary from the work of our own hands.

When reviled, we bless;
when persecuted, we endure;
when slandered, we speak kindly.

We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day. (1 Cor 4:10-13)

Earlier in this passage Paul states,

“I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals” (1 Cor 4:9).

Paul insists that, in this, he is simply imitating his Lord (1 Cor 11:1), in line with what Jesus repeatedly taught: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Lk 5:13).

Paul insists that his approach must be duplicated in the lives of Christians – everywhere:

“Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me” (1 Cor 4:15-16).

That’s the answer to our question: Paul taught his sacrificial, cross shaped life “everywhere in every church.”

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