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Judgment and Community Conflict in 1 Corinthians 3:5-4:5

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Chapter Summary

The centerpiece in the rhetorical structure of 1 Corinthians 1: 10-4:21 is 3:5- 4:5, for here Paul deals explicitly and at length with the problem of social disunity in the Corinthian church. In 1:18-2:16 Paul prepares the ground for his admonitions by a fundamental exploration of the attitudes about wisdom which he sees to lie behind the social tensions. God's judgment of human wisdom is the primary thematic link that holds together Paul's thoughts on wisdom in 1:18-2:16 and 3:18-23 and on future judgment in 3:5-17 and 4:1-5. Paul uses his descriptions of God's future judgment to articulate for the Corinthians the arrogance and impossibility of such judgments in the church, since only God has the right and the ability to test the works and evaluate the thoughts of his servants. Paul uses judgment language not as a threat but as a positive motivation for his parenesis.

Keywords: 1 Corinthians; God' s judgment; parenesis; Paul; social tensions



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