This is one of a series of reviews from a Christian perspective on the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me (New Testament, 2023) for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To find the index of these reviews, visit here.
Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence is being reviewed.
September 4-10, 2023
1 Corinthians 14-16
Because the Church and its doctrines were relatively new in Corinth, it’s understandable that Corinthian Saints encountered confusion. Paul had previously taught them the fundamental truth of the gospel: “That Christ died for our sins … and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). But some members soon began teaching that “there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12). Paul implored them to “keep in memory” the truths they had been taught (1 Corinthians 15:2). When we encounter conflicting opinions about gospel truths, it is good to remember that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Up to this point, I agree completely with the introductory paragraph. God is not the author of confusion, so “when we encounter conflicting opinions of gospel truths,” we need to get to the bottom of it all. Two contrary views means there is something wrong with at least one of them. The law of non-contradiction (A cannot equal non-A) does not allow for two opposites to both be correct; both can be wrong, but both cannot be true. We encourage people to take any spiritual claim to the Bible and see if it can stand up to the truth.
Listening to the Lord’s appointed servants and holding to the simple truths they repeatedly teach can help us find peace and “stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Ahh, but here is the kicker, which is the common strategy used throughout this year’s lessons. That strategy is, whenever possible, make sure the reader is told how the living prophets get it all right. They, after all, will set the record straight. But has anyone considered the possibility that these men are the ones directing us the wrong way?
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
1 Corinthians 14
I can seek the gift of prophecy.
What is the gift of prophecy? Is it the ability to predict the future? Is it just for prophets? Or can anyone receive this gift?
Ponder these questions as you study 1 Corinthians 14:3, 31, 39–40. You could also read Revelation 19:10 and “Prophecy, Prophesy” in Guide to the Scriptures (scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). Based on what you learn, how would you define the gift of prophecy? What might Paul have meant when he invited the Corinthians to “covet to prophesy”? (1 Corinthians 14:39). How can you accept this invitation?
What if your personal revelation is contrary to what the “Lord’s appointed servants” have taught? Should you believe them? Or your own personal understanding? This is a tricky teaching.
As former BYU professor Robert Millet put it, “Our blessing is that we believe in personal revelation. Our curse is that we believe in personal revelation. That’s the honest fact
for me. There is a risk associated with the position we take toward God’s ability to speak to you and me” (“From faith to fanatic delusion,” Deseret News, March 16, 2003).
The “curse” is that Latter-day Saints may be deluded into thinking that their “personal revelation” trumps what their leaders have taught. And the leadership is very clear who ought to be believed. So any Latter-day Saint who believes he or she has a revelation that shows how the leaders’ views are wrong, then guess who these leaders think is wrong? Of course, it has to be the individual, as it is not possible for the leaders to lead anyone astray.
As 11th President Harold B. Lee explained,
“You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with your social life.…Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow.…Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church (CR October 1970, pp. 152-153.).”Harold B. Lee, as cited in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 139. Ellipses in original.
1 Corinthians 14:34–35
How does the statement about women in these verses apply today?
In Paul’s day, there were different expectations about how women participated in society, including in church meetings. Whatever the teachings in 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 meant in Paul’s day, they shouldn’t be understood to mean that women cannot speak and lead in the Church today (see Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Corinthians 14:34 [in 1 Corinthians 14:34, footnote b]). President Russell M. Nelson said to the women of the Church today: “We … need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!” (“A Plea to My Sisters,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 96).
And yet why are LDS women not allowed to hold the priesthood? This seems very confusing. In Christianity, every believer–male or female–holds the royal priesthood and has direct authority from God (1 Peter 2:9). For more on this topic, visit Crash Course Mormonism: Priesthood.
1 Corinthians 15:1–34, 53–58
Jesus Christ gained victory over death.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so fundamental to Christianity, one might say that without it there is no Christianity—to use Paul’s words, “then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Yet some of the Corinthian Saints were teaching that there would be “no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12). As you read Paul’s response in 1 Corinthians 15, take a moment to ponder how your life would be different if you did not believe in the Resurrection (see 2 Nephi 9:6–19; Alma 40:19–23; Doctrine and Covenants 93:33–34). What does the phrase “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain” mean to you? (verse 17).
Christians and Mormons do agree that there is a physical resurrection from the dead. We don’t debate that.
It is also worth noting that Paul referred to baptism for the dead as evidence for the reality of the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). How has temple and family history work strengthened your faith in the doctrine of resurrection?
As it has been pointed out several times on our website, this is a verse that has been badly misinterpreted over the years to support the nonbiblical teaching that efficacious work can be done on behalf of anyone who is dead. Hebrews 9:27 and even Alma 34:32ff in the Book of Mormon strongly disagree with such a concept. To read more on this topic, click Does 1 Corinthians 15:29 teach baptism for the dead?
Othere articles can be found at:
- Is Baptism for the Dead a biblical doctrine?
- What Historical Support Does the Mormon Church Have to Justify Baptism for the Dead?
If you are a Latter-day Saint, do some reserach and see if this verse really says what the LDS leaders are telling you. If they are correct, then biblical Christians have been getting it wrong since the very beginning, as there is no other support for the teaching in the rest of scripture. Using a verse out of its context should not be considered a strong point.
1 Corinthians 15:35–54
Resurrected bodies are different from mortal bodies.
Have you ever wondered what a resurrected body is like? According to 1 Corinthians 15:35, some of the Corinthians wondered the same thing. Read Paul’s answer in verses 36–54, and note words and phrases that describe the differences between mortal bodies and resurrected bodies. As you do, you might compare verses 40–42 with Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–112. What does this revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith add to your understanding? (see also Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Corinthians 15:40 [in 1 Corinthians 15:40, footnote a]). Why are these truths valuable to you?
Honestly, if Joseph Smith is not a true prophet of God–and I don’t believe he is–then what good is it for someone like me to go to D&C 76 when I don’t believe God was speaking to Mormonism’s founder? I need to be shown in God’s special revelation, the Bible, or it’s not considered authoritative.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
1 Corinthians 15:29.
We learn from verse 29 that ancient Christians participated in baptisms for the dead, just as we do today. How would we explain to others why we are baptized for our ancestors? (see “What Are Baptisms for the Dead?” , ChurchofJesusChrist.org). What are we doing as a family to provide temple ordinances for our deceased ancestors who need them?
And the quick answer is, no, they did not. There are just too many problems with this unique LDS teaching and there is no support for it outside of the misuse of this verse in 1 Corinthians. Paul was not advocating genealogy or temple work in this passage. His main emphasis was the resurrection of the body.
What is very frustrating with this series is that the church’s leaders bend passages to make them say whatever they want them to say. This is not the proper way for authentic biblical interpretation. First Corinthians 15:29 has been talked about on our end so many different times and yet the church leaders continue to use and reuse this verse in an improper manner. It has been 7-8 years since the church included signs in the baptismal font area to cite this verse on the temple open hour tours. At least this is my experience as I have attended more than 30 open house events and can compare from previous practice.
Why is this? Is it possible that knowledgable Christians were asking too many questions about the use of this verse with an ordinance that was not being practiced by the apostles or early Christians? Once again, this is another reason why this weekly series (Come, Follow Me) cannot be taken seriously as an authentic Bible study. It is filled with presuppositions and inaccurate biblical interpretation.