Monthly Archives: August 2017

Teaching Tip from Paul (per Richard Hays)

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Interpretation series, Richard Hays points out Paul’s strategy in addressing the concerns of the Corinthian church in 1 Cor.

His summary and takeaway is insightful for those who teach, preach, or evangelize:

…it is striking that Paul takes up the Corinthians’ concerns [in 7:1-15:58] only after writing the lengthy discussion of chapters 1-6, in which he calls for unity, reasserts his authority, forcefully scolds the community, and calls them to new standards of holiness and community discipline. Plainly, he is not content to allow the Corinthians’ concerns to set the agenda. He addresses their questions only after carefully rebuilding the foundation upon which he believes answers must be based. This strategy allows him, as we shall see, to reframe the issues; he calls repeatedly for the Corinthian community to be re-socialized into a pattern shaped by the gospel of the cross and illuminated by the eschatological setting of the church between cross and the final day of the Lord. Teachers and preachers may find Paul’s example instructive: It is not necessarily wise to begin “where the people are.” The teacher who does so may find it impossible to move the students to any other place. Of course, the students’ questions must be engaged–as Paul’s example shows–but that engagement will be most fruitful if the groundwork of the gospel has first been laid out clearly.

Richard Hays, 1 Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching (Louisville: John Knox Press 1997), 111.