An interactive study guide where we can join in conversation together...

Chapter 4: Who Were the Corinthians?


Questions 4.1:

1. Which of the people of Corinth do you most identify with?

2. Describe that person to the rest of the group.

3. How have you seen status, name, rank, or position respected, or the lack of it disrespected?

4. What other things do we respect or disrespect in our culture?

Does it surprise you to see some of the ways we are similar to first century Corinthians? I know it surprised me the first time I saw it . . . not so much the frictions that they had. People always have friction. But the emphasis on status. We may base status on different markers. And we have to be careful and not think that we are just like them; we have some important differences as well (the ways we think about slavery, for example). But there are some important similarities that can help us understand Paul's letter a little bit better.


Notice, this week, the way you, along with the people you know, judge one another's worth, importance, or value.

Questions 4.2:

1. Who do you think of as part of your family? Have you ever included people in your family who weren’t related to you?

2. How do we talk about people in ways that show respect? How do we shame people in our culture?

3. How do the three aspects of grace that Seneca talked about help you to envision God’s grace?

4. What kind of a person does our culture consider wise, or maybe we would say smart?

Language is important. The "sticks and stones" rhyme may help us to overlook what people say, but it isn't really true. Names can hurt us. We use names and words to communicate important things to each other about who belongs and who doesn't.


Notice, this week, how your words include or exclude others. Notice how the words of others include or exclude you.

Questions 4.3:

1. How many different social, economic, educational, and cultural backgrounds are represented in your church?

2. How can we tell what class of people someone belongs to in our culture?

3. When do these differences work well together?

4. When do we allow them to create problems?

Diversity can be a good thing. It's important that we both see the similarities between people who seem different on the surface, but also that we learn to listen and understand people who see the world from a different perspective. It's easier, though, to live with people who agree with us and who see things the same way.


Notice, this week, the presence or lack of diversity in your church. Are there people whose perspective is dismissed?


Posted by Barbara on
4.1 -I found this fascinating, particularly the quote from the inscription at the beginning. It seems like such a well-ordered society. I didn't relate to anyone in particular and found it all rather tight, constricting and oppressive. I guess I like our more open USA where there is social mobility and people can gain fortune ( and lose it!) freely. We are not bond as much by roles or family birth. I like our American independence but I also that that value has a problem. In my communities it is very much honored which keeps people from depending on each other or showing weakness or need.
4.2 - People in my family contribute. Same for the church. If you are not an active, productive, useful member - you are a burden or a "ministry". So the shame comes from not being an independent, hard-working person.
4.3 - I attend an extremely large church so there is great diversity. However, in such a great number, people find those who are "like them" and form smaller cliques. I do like the attitude of the leadership though. If you have an idea - they tell you to run with it. So all the differences of the people translate into different ministries. There is something for everyone!
Posted by Laura J. Hunt on
Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate your thoughts on the good/bad of independence, and especially on the 'shame' of not being a contributing member. And your church sounds really good! The national leaders of our church are also really good, when people ask them what they're doing, at saying, "Whatever you are doing as you figure out what Jesus is doing!"
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