Day 25 September 3 - Romans 11 - I Corinthians 1

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Owe no man any thing, but to love one another

Food For Thought:

Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul (see 1 Nephi 11:23).

Charity is "the pure love of Christ," or "everlasting love" (Moroni 7:47; 8:17). The prophet Mormon taught: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (Moroni 7:45; see also 1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of charity. In His mortal ministry, He always "went about doing good," teaching the gospel and showing tender compassion for the poor, afflicted, and distressed (see Matthew 4:23; Mark 6:6; Acts 10:38). His crowning expression of charity was His infinite Atonement. He said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). This was the greatest act of long-suffering, kindness, and selflessness that we will ever know.

The Savior wants all people to receive His love and to share it with others. He declared to His disciples: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:34–35). In relationships with family members and others, followers of Christ look to the Savior as their example and strive to love as He loves, with unfailing compassion, patience, and mercy.

Scripture Study:

And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship. . . . And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life ceternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope. And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart. If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity. And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. - Moroni 7:1, 40-48

Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. -2 Nephi 26:30

And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father. -Ether 12:34

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. - Galatians 5:13, 14

Scripture Reference: Romans 13: 8-10

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992, 18

Charity is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word. We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.

Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again. It makes the thought of being a basher repulsive.

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.

None of us need one more person bashing or pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we’re trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses. What ever happened to giving each other the benefit of the doubt? What ever happened to hoping that another person would succeed or achieve? What ever happened to rooting for each other?

Bonnie D. Parkin, “Choosing Charity: That Good Part,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 104

The one thing that is needful is to choose eternal life. We choose daily. As we seek, listen, and follow the Lord, we are encircled in the arms of His love—a love that is pure.

Mormon teaches us that “charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” 10 The pure love of Christ. Let’s look at that. What does this phrase mean? We find part of the answer in Joshua: “Take diligent heed … to love the Lord your God … and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 11 Charity is our love for the Lord, shown through our acts of service, patience, compassion, and understanding for one another.

Additional insight into the pure love of Christ is found in Ether: “[Jesus has] loved the world, even unto the laying down of [His] life for the world, that [He might] take it again to prepare a place for the children of men. And now I know that this love which [He has] for the children of men is charity.” 12 Charity is also the Lord’s love for us, shown through His acts of service, patience, compassion, and understanding.

The “pure love of Christ” 13 refers not only to our love for the Savior but to His love for each of us.

The story of Mary and Martha also illustrates how the gift of charity can be diminished. Within Martha’s request for assistance was an unspoken but clear judgment: “I am right; she is wrong.”

Do we judge one another? Do we criticize each other for individual choices, thinking we know better, when in fact we rarely understand another’s unique circumstance or individual inspiration? Have we ever said, “She works outside the home.” Or, “Her son didn’t serve a mission.” Or, “She’s too old for a calling.” Or, “She can’t—she’s single.” Such judgments, and so many others like them, rob us of the good part, that pure love of Christ.

We also lose sight of that good part when we compare ourselves to others. Her hair is cuter, my legs are fatter, her children are more talented, or her garden’s more productive—sisters, you know the drill. We just can’t do that. We cannot allow ourselves to feel inadequate by focusing on who we aren’t instead of on who we are! We are all sisters in Relief Society. We simply cannot criticize, gossip, or judge and keep the pure love of Christ. Can’t you hear the Lord’s sweet injunction: “Martha, Martha … ?"

Elder Gene R. Cook, “Charity: Perfect and Everlasting Love,” Ensign, May 2002, 82

The Lord said that charity is “the pure love of Christ,” that which is “most joyous to the soul,” “the greatest of all the gifts of God,” “perfect” and “everlasting.”

As difficult as charity is to describe, it is rather easily recognized in the lives of those who possess it.

• An aged, crippled grandmother who subscribes to an afternoon newspaper, knowing it will bring her delivery-boy grandson to her home every day where, at her knee, she teaches him to pray.

• A mother who, in hard economic times and scarcity of meat, seems to savor only chicken wings, to the puzzlement of all.

• A man who suffers an undeserved public chastisement, but humbly receives it anyway.

Is not the common thread in these examples charity, a selflessness, a not seeking for anything in return? All of our divine attributes seem to flow from and be encompassed by this one. All men may have the gift of love, but charity is bestowed only upon those who are true followers of Christ.

The very power of God is found in His attributes of godliness. The power of the priesthood is maintained by these attributes. We seek these attributes, especially charity, the pure love of Christ.

** On Sabbath Day morning, 27 February 2005, I delivered a Sacrament talk to the congregation of the Annapolis Maryland Ward entitled "Charity: The Pure Love Of Christ". **

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Romans 11:13 I magnify mine office

Delbert L. Stapley

“Sometimes we hear brethren refer to ‘magnifying the priesthood.’ While many of us are guilty of making this erroneous statement, it isn’t the priesthood we magnify; it is one’s office and calling in the priesthood. It cannot be enlarged upon because there is no authority or power greater in the universe.

“To magnify is to intensify, to increase in significance, to enlarge upon, and to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect.

President Joseph F. Smith said, ‘There is no office growing out of this Priesthood that is or can be greater than the Priesthood itself. It is from the priesthood that the office derives its authority and power. No office adds to the power of the Priesthood. But all offices in the church derive their power, their virtue, their authority, from the priesthood.’ (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], p. 148)” (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 333)

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Romans 12:1 I beseech you…that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice

Bruce R. McConkie

“Sacrifices are of two kinds: living and dead, or in other words, temporal and spiritual. Under the law of Moses, animals were slain in similitude of the coming sacrifice of the Son of God; such were temporal sacrifices, sacrifices involving death. But under the law of Christ, men are called upon to make living sacrifices, to sacrifice themselves by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 292.)

Neal A. Maxwell

“So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the ‘sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,’ (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving ‘away all [our] sins’ in order to ‘know God’ (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him.” (“Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995, 68)

Brigham Young

“The most effectual way to establish the religion of Heaven is to live it, rather than to die for it: I think I am safe in saying that there are many of the Latter-day Saints who are more willing to die for their religion than to live it faithfully. There is no other proof can be adduced to God, angels, and men, that a people faithfully live their religion, than that they repent truly of their sins, obey the law of baptism for the remission of sins, and then continue to do the works of righteousness day by day.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 221.)

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Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given… whether prophecy… ministering… teaching; Or… exhortation

Bruce R. McConkie

“Members of the Church should use, and be called to positions which enable them to use, the specific talents and gifts with which they are endowed. Musicians belong in the choir, preachers in the pulpit, teachers in the classroom, and prophets in positions of presidency. Those who can influence the young and rising generation for good should be appointed to do so; those having converting power and zeal should labor as missionaries; and those with financial and business ability should be assigned to build up the kingdom temporally. A bishop may not be a farmer, nor an apostle a financier; but there will be others who can serve in these areas. And one of the talents of superior leaders is their ability to call the right person to serve in the right position at the right time.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 293.)

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Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation

Paul means that love should be shown without hypocrisy. Nothing is more nauseating than the fake smile of a phony saint. They will tell you they love you but they won’t lift a finger to help you. Such “dissimulation” is disgusting. Their expressions are worn like a mask, but the smiling face and beguiling words can’t hide the true character of their hearts.

Joseph Smith

“I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 303)

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Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation

Elaine L. Jack

“For me, to live in despair is not to live. I cannot imagine life without hope. Perhaps this is because I learned early that hope is a personal quality, essential for righteous living. In fact, hope is one of the personality traits of godlike men and women. Paul explained that members of the Church who wish to live ‘acceptable unto God’ (Rom. 12:1) are in part characterized as those ‘not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.’ (Rom. 12:11–12.)

“Recently I read an article about a Cambodian family who had endured unimaginable suffering. At the end of a particularly arduous day, the mother gathered the family together and taught, ‘Remember, children, hate does not end with more hate but with love. And from that we take hope. Without love and hope, our lives will be empty.’ What a wise mother!

“My own dear mother taught me a lot about love and hope. She was ill for many years, yet she was such a bright, hopeful person. She taught me that in any circumstance those who are ‘acceptable unto God’ can be recognized because their belief is evident in their attitude and action. Mother knew that it is hope that helps us to rebound.

“To me it is very important that ‘rejoicing in hope’ is on the list of godlike characteristics, especially because we benefit so much from the comfort and happy expectation of hope in these tumultuous times.” (“A Perfect Brightness of Hope,” Ensign, Mar. 1992, 10)

Dallin H. Oaks

“The Apostle Paul described the followers of Christ as ‘rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation.’ (Rom. 12:12.) We are tested for those qualities in different ways at different times.

“A few weeks ago, some members of my family visited the Winter Quarters cemetery at Florence, Nebraska. There they saw Avard T. Fairbanks’s marvelous statue of the pioneer parents looking down at the body of their baby, soon to be left in its grave at the side of the trail. Those pioneers received some of their toughest tests at graveside. Some modern pioneers receive their tests at bedside. One sister wrote:

‘My mother cared for her mother until [Grandma] was ninety-eight. My dad now has Alzheimer’s disease, and my mother patiently cares for him. … The amazing part of this is the attitude of my mother. She always thought she would travel after she retired. She has always kept a beautiful home, loving to entertain others. She maintains her home as best she can, but has had to put aside many things that bring her joy. The amazing part is the joy my mother radiates. Her attitude is so beautiful. She finds real joy in the simple things of life. She is the pillar of strength to the whole family as she uplifts us all with her positive attitude.’

“There are hidden heroines and heroes among the Latter-day Saints—‘those of the last wagon’ whose fidelity to duty and devotion to righteousness go unnoticed by anyone except the One whose notice really matters.” (“Modern Pioneers,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 65)

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Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing

“The Apostle Paul instructed the Romans to ‘owe no man any thing’ (Rom. 13:8), while in modern times the Savior counseled Martin Harris to ‘pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage’ (D&C 19:35).

“Clearly scripture cautions us against incurring unnecessary debt. Modern prophets and apostles have echoed that plea... President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: ‘Reasonable debt for the purchase of an affordable home and perhaps for a few other necessary things is acceptable. But from where I sit, I see in a very vivid way the terrible tragedies of many who have unwisely borrowed for things they really do not need’ (“I Believe,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 6).” (Scott Nash, “Understanding Interest on Debt,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 64)

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” (Conference Report, April 1938, Afternoon Meeting 101.)

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Romans 14:10 why dost thou judge thy brother?

Milton R. Hunter

“Throughout my life…I have observed that as a rule it seems as if human beings like to gossip. We like to hear unsavory things about our neighbors and talk about each other. It seems that ofttimes we get a certain degree of satisfaction or even joy out of saying bad things about other people. We thoughtlessly and sometimes maliciously judge each other. We censure our associates sometimes unjustly, many times unkindly; and most of the time we speak without having the evidence to back up what we are saying. We seem to forget that James, the brother of the Lord, warned that the unbridled tongue is ‘full of deadly poison.’ (James 3:8.)

“I know that even sometimes people who are faithful in the Church pass judgment and condemnation on those with whom they associate without knowing the facts. Such is displeasing to God.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 64)

David O. McKay

“It is a deplorable fact that the eye of the gossip and the slanderer sees not only no good in others, but sees ‘evil where no evil exists.’ Ofttimes, many evil, vicious things that are circulated exist only in the imagination of ignorant and evilthinking minds.” (Instructor, June 1960, p. 178.)

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Romans 14:23 whatsoever is not of faith is sin

F. Enzio Busche

“Paul declared to the Romans that ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ (Rom. 14:23). The original word in the Bible for the word sin is hamartia. The word hamartia means ‘missing the mark,’ deriving from the sport of archery. Those of you who like basketball would probably call it ‘shooting an air ball.’ When we do not do everything in our life in faith, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are missing the mark. We are off target. When we are off target, we will not feel the confidence and joy and power of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, we will have to learn to direct our desires towards repentance, or change, to bring us back on target.” (“Hitting the Mark,” New Era, Oct. 1997, 8)

Joseph Smith

“By faith in this Atonement, or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith. He could have no faith, or could not exercise faith, contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be the shedding of the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man, for this was the plan of redemption, and without the shedding of blood was no remission. And as the sacrifice was instituted for a type by which man was to discern the great sacrifice which God had prepared, to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order. Consequently, Cain could have no faith, and ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ [Rom. 14:23]. But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God himself testifying of his gifts [Heb. 11:4]. Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type or explanation, of what was to be offered through the gift of God himself, and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great sacrifice for a remission of sins.” (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 16 - 17.)

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Romans 15:1 we then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak

Gordon B. Hinckley

“I remember interviewing a discouraged missionary. He was having trouble with a language which was not his own. He had lost the spirit of his work and wanted to go home. He was one of 180 missionaries in that mission.

“I told him that if he were to go home he would break faith with his 179 companions. Every one of them was his friend. Every one of them would pray for him, fast for him, and do almost anything else to help him. They would work with him. They would teach him. They would get on their knees with him. They would help him to learn the language and be successful because they loved him.

“I am happy to report that he accepted my assurance that all of the other missionaries were his friends. They rallied around him, not to embarrass him, but to strengthen him. The terrible feeling of loneliness left him. He came to realize that he was part of a winning team. He became successful, a leader, and he has been a leader ever since.

“That’s what each of us must do for one another.

”Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.’ And then he added these significant words, ‘And not to please ourselves.’ (Rom. 15:1.)

”There is a sad tendency in our world today for persons to cut one another down. Did you ever realize that it does not take very much in the way of brainpower to make remarks that may wound another? Try the opposite of that. Try handing out compliments.

”For a number of years, while I had responsibility for the work in Asia, I interviewed each missionary one-on-one. I asked each what virtue he or she saw in his or her companion and would like to put into his or her own life.

“When I raised that question, almost invariably the missionary, an elder for example, would stop with a surprised look on his face. He had never thought of his companion that way before. He had seen his faults and weaknesses but had not seen his virtues. I would tell him to pause and think about it for a minute. Then the answers would begin to come. Such answers as, ‘He’s a hard worker.’ ‘He gets up in the morning.’ ‘He dresses neatly.’ ‘He doesn’t complain.’

“It was a remarkable thing, really. These young men and women, for the most part, had been oblivious to the virtues of their companions, although they were well aware of their companions’ faults, and often felt discouraged because of them. But when they began to turn their attitudes around, remarkable things began to happen.” (“Strengthening Each Other,” Ensign, Feb. 1985, 3-4)

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Romans 15:13 that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost

Dwan J. Young

“Our hope in Christ gives us an unchanging reason to rejoice. As Paul said to the Romans: ‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope’ (Rom. 15:13).

“The Lord wants us to be filled with hope—not just because it points us to a brighter tomorrow, but because it changes the quality of our lives today. Hopeless may be the saddest word in our language. Despair is the enemy of our souls. It can paralyze us, halt our progress, and cause us to lose our way. But hope awakens us like a light shining in the darkness.

“You remember that the thirteenth article of faith states: ‘We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things’ [A of F 1:13] (italics added).

“We can endure all things when our hope is centered in one who will never fail us—our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world.” (“The Light of Hope,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 86)

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Romans 16:17 mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine

Dean L. Larsen

“One who follows Paul through his proselyting journeys and his continuous efforts to ‘confirm the churches’ that grew out of his missionary successes receives some insight into the mammoth challenge faced by these early leaders to convert, organize, and stabilize a rapidly growing membership. Transportation and communication were restricted, so visits by the general officers of the church to the various areas of church growth were obviously infrequent. It is little wonder that Paul’s letters to his dearly beloved saints are often touched by expressions of concern over unity, understanding, and charity among the members. This was typically true in his first epistle to the saints in Corinth, where he pleaded, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.’ (1 Cor. 1:10.)

“To the Roman members Paul wrote, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.’ (Rom. 16:17.)” (“The Challenges of Administering a Worldwide Church,” Ensign, July 1974, 18, 20)

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Romans 16:19 I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil

Spencer W. Kimball

“You will find that keeping free of entanglements of sin is made easier when we are uncomplicated and unyielding in our attitude toward sin. Sophistication cannot really change the nature of evil, though through sophistry some may attempt to diminish the significance of evil.” (“The Savior: The Center of Our Lives,” New Era, Apr. 1980, 36)

Spencer W. Kimball

“Now, my brothers and sisters, as we move into the last half of the Church’s second century, let us keep our faith beautifully simple. May we, as Paul said, be ‘wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil’ (Rom. 16:19). Learn to recognize evil, and shun it always. May we keep Church programs and organizations simple. If we do, we will build to a thrilling and rewarding momentum in the days and months and years ahead. The Savior urged his followers to be ‘wise as serpents, and harmless as doves’ (Matt. 10:16). Let us follow that counsel today. Let us so live that if people speak critically of us they must do so falsely and without justification.” (“Let Us Not Weary in Well Doing,” Ensign, May 1980, 81)

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1 Corinthians: Introduction

’Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you . . . by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you have believed in vain’ (1 Cor. 15:1-2, NKJB). In these words Paul virtually wrote his own introduction to the Corinthian letters. The Saints at Corinth had believed, prospered, and divided, with parties opposing Paul and many doctrines he had taught. Because Paul had to correct so much, he wrote more to Corinth than to any other branch on record. The two Corinthian letters contain more than a fourth of the content of all fourteen of Paul's letters. They include much interaction—answers to letters, references to the faithfulness and unfaithfulness of the Saints, even quotations from skeptics and critics in connection with Paul's replies. Hence, these letters candidly picture a troubled branch of the Church and Paul's logical and spiritual convictions in response…By thoroughly repreaching the gospel, Paul in 1 Corinthians gives special insight into what was commonly believed by the Church members to whom Paul's many special letters were written.



Sent from: Paul, at Ephesus, joined by Sosthenes.

Sent to: Members at Corinth, provincial capital of southern Greece.

Date: Not long after the Passover, about A.D. 57.

Purpose: To correct dissension in that branch, to correct many wrong beliefs and actions, and to prepare them for Paul's future visit.

Main themes: Appeal for unity; revelation and man's wisdom; Paul's apostleship; sexual standards; marriage questions; true and false worship; Church organization and spiritual gifts; pure love; the Resurrection.


The City

“…When Corinth was alive, it flexed powerful muscles. Strabo said that it was ‘always great and wealthy.’ Rome made southern Greece into the province of Achaia and made Corinth its capital, as readers know from the Gallio incident in Acts. Trade passed to and from the southern section of Greece through a Corinthian funnel, and cargoes to and from Italy were regularly routed through Corinth in days when ships navigated near the shores rather than risked open sea. Thus, Paul was at a communications center while at Corinth…This trade center was also a center of wickedness, as 1 Corinthians clearly shows. In its early success, the Greeks coined a verb ‘Corinthize,’ meaning to enjoy worldly pleasures. The big cities of the Roman Empire were like today's big cities in offering the best and the worst, though there was no general Christianity then to temper society. The Romans had destroyed Corinth in the Greek wars, but it was refounded a century before Paul with a strong Roman influence—first-century inscriptions are heavily Latin. Ancient sources picture a city with the vitality and seductiveness of the Chicago pictured by Carl Sandburg's poem. Immorality problems are more visible in 1 Corinthians than in any other letter of Paul except that to Rome itself. Plutarch attacked predatory bankers, and those from Corinth led the list. Yet the existence of bad society does not make all society bad. The Lord stood before Paul in vision and commanded him to stay and gather his people out of this worldly center. Because Corinth has so many parallels to any major modern city, what Paul wrote to the Corinthians has great relevance to Saints today.

Church Members

“…The character of the Corinthian branch can be appreciated only by reading the Corinthian letters. Some ridiculed Paul, promoted factions in their branch, aggressively dominated the meetings, and doubted major doctrine. Paul's patient but firm leadership is constant in his Corinthian letters. Here was a branch in need of strong local and general authorities…So there was deep dissension at Corinth, but it is important to see this lack of unity as really an authority problem…Paul does not merely teach Christian unity in 1 Corinthians; unity must come through following local officers supervised by apostolic authority.

“First Corinthians is a doctrinal gem, ranging through the ancient gospel with a scope unmatched by most of Paul's letters and equaled by only one or two. Were the Corinthians especially worthy of receiving such a letter? The opposite is the case, for the most faithful branches did not need reconversion. And 1 Corinthians is a letter detailing the basics that were disbelieved and giving testimony and evidence to bring the full truth again to the Corinthians. The letter is so specific because the Corinthians were so confused. One can hear Paul preaching in 1 Corinthians better than in any other place except Acts. He repreaches the Resurrection to doubters and repreaches sexual morality to those who had reverted to worldly ways. He takes modern readers into the meetings and homes of early Christians to correct their carelessness in eating meat of pagan sacrifice, not eating the Lord's Supper with reverence, and allowing zeal to run uncontrolled in open meetings. He answers doctrinal questions and shows that the ultimate answers to all these problems are true spirituality, respect for priesthood leaders, and Christlike love.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 91-97.)

Bruce R. McConkie

“Ancient Corinth was a city of debauchery, lewdness, and evil. Even by pagan standards the Corinthians were notoriously sensual and immoral. Their very religion itself centered around the worship of Aphrodite (Venus) and included the sacrificing of chastity by virgins. Drunkenness, lasciviousness, and sex sin were proverbial. And as is natural in such a society, the people of the Roman colony of Corinth were given to faction and strife, and to the solving of moral issues through philosophical contention.

“In this climate of evil, Paul had raised up a congregation of saints who forsook the world that was Corinth and sought for a better life in the Cause of Christ. But these new and in some cases only semi-converted saints soon reeked with troubles in their own select group. Factions arose in the Church; some sought to solve spiritual problems by reason and philosophical dispute; the gifts of the Spirit and the partaking of the Lord's Supper were twisted and debased; some rejected Paul as an apostle, others denied the resurrection; and immoral and wanton conduct was found among those who had once turned from Satan to Christ.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 309.)

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1 Cor. 1:9 called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ

Jeffrey R. Holland

“What does it mean to belong, to be a member of Christ's church and be ‘called unto the fellowship of . . . Jesus Christ our Lord’? (1 Corinthians 1:9.) Obviously much of the joy and most of the meaning is yet to be fully realized. Surely it will be after death and beyond the veil that, more mature and enlightened, we will see—because we will be shown—the eternal implications of our earthly covenants.” (However Long and Hard the Road [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 41.)

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1 Cor. 1:12 every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas

Paul was very concerned about these Corinthian factions. Some of the Corinthian saints had been converted by Paul, some by Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew and an eloquent speaker who had much success among the Jews in Corinth (Acts 18:24-28), and some by Cephas or Peter, who had apparently traveled there with his wife (1 Cor 9:5). Elder Neal A. Maxwell noted: “Paul actually grieved because some members of the Church of Jesus Christ in the meridian of time wrongly thought of themselves as being Paul’s or Peter’s or some other’s converts. (See 1 Cor. 1:12–13.) True Christians, then and now, are converts to Christ and should not be known by the name of even his most devoted follower.” (“Our Acceptance of Christ,” Ensign, June 1984, 70)

What is most interesting is that the Lord mentions these factions in the D&C in connection with those who will inherit a telestial glory (DC 76:99). The implications of this are rather frightening. Remember, Paul had referred to these Corinthians as ‘saints’ (v. 2) and as those ‘called unto the fellowship of his Son’ (v. 9). They were members of the church, who without repentance, could expect to receive no more than a telestial glory. They had received baptism, the key to entrance into the celestial kingdom, but that ordinance would not be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise because of their contention and strife. This is a frightening reminder to church members of all dispensations that ‘unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation’ (DC 82:3). Hereby, we see that we must repent of our contentious ways and follow the brethren will full purpose of heart if we expect to attain to a celestial glory.

Bruce R. McConkie

“Perfect unity is a goal the Church is still seeking. There are today Word of Wisdom faddists who will not use white flour or refined sugar; there are so-called liberals who think the problems of religion can be solved by dialogues and discussions without reference to revelation; there are others who maintain the Church should follow the world's course of social progress; there are those who try and harmonize the evolutionary concepts of the day with the revealed account of the fall and atonement; and there are others who profess to believe that full salvation is reserved for those who practice plural marriage, and so on. In other words, there are some of one philosophy and some of another, some follow the advocates of this cultish view and some of that.

“How apt it is that the Lord chose to paraphrase Paul's language concerning divisive groups in the Church, when he spoke of those who shall be thrust down to hell, and who after their sufferings shall come forth to receive a telestial inheritance. ‘These are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.’ (D. & C. 76:99-101.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 313.)

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