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.
August 28-September 3
1 Corinthians 8-13
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
1 Corinthians 10:1–13
God provides a way to escape temptation.
Spiritual experiences, even miraculous ones, do not exempt us from temptations that are “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). That may be one reason Paul wrote about how the Israelites in Moses’s day struggled with temptation, even though they witnessed mighty miracles (see Exodus 13:21; 14:13–31). As you read 1 Corinthians 10:1–13, what warnings in the Israelites’ experiences seem applicable to you? What kinds of “escape” from temptation has Heavenly Father provided for you? (see also Alma 13:27–30; 3 Nephi 18:18–19).
Before I talk about this paragraph above, I just want to say a word about the complete silence of any teaching from chapters 8 and 9 (with the exception of four verses at the end of the lesson about “finishing the race”).
Chapter 8 is about food offered to idols. According to Paul, as long as it does not make another person stumble, there is nothing wrong with eating food previously given to idols. It is left to the individual’s own conscience. In Mormonism, nobody is allowed to drink coffee, tea, or alcohol without breaking the Word of Wisdom. There is no freedom whatsoever in these issues.
As far as chapter 9, I am struck by Paul’s rhetorical question, “Am I not an apostle?” Well, no, if we want to be technical, Paul was not part of Jesus’s Twelve–the official apostles set apart by Jesus (Matthias was appointed to replace Judas Iscariot). This would seem to be a strange argument on Paul’s part if he is claiming to be something that he apparently was not ordained to be. In other words, if he is not one of the Twelve, why is he insisting that he is an apostle? It makes no sense in the worldview of Mormonism.
Verses 7-12a say,
7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
The question then becomes, why are the bishops of the LDS Church not paid? This is even more puzzling when the D&C says they should be. For more on this issue, click here.
With that said, let’s consider the point made by the church’s writers in the paragraph above. I am reminded of James 1:2-18 where the apostle said that God gives wisdom to believers if they ask God when they were going through tough times. As verse 13 says “when temped” and not “if tempted.”
Unfortunately, Joseph Smith took James 1:5 out of context to make it say that a person should pray about a religious book to see if it is true. This is not the context of the passage. How many Latter-day Saints don’t understand that it is possible to pray about those tough trials/temptations and acquire wisdom to get through any situation? It is not talking about praying to see which church is true. For more on James 1:5, click here.
1 Corinthians 10:16–17; 11:16–30
The sacrament unifies us as members of Christ’s Church.
Although the sacrament involves a personal commitment between you and the Lord, it is also an experience you share with others. We almost always partake of the sacrament together, as a body of Saints. Read what Paul taught about the sacrament, and think about how this sacred ordinance can help “many” become “one” in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:17). How does partaking of the sacrament help you feel closer to Christ and other believers? How do these verses influence your feelings about the sacrament and the way you prepare for it?
In Mormonism, the elements are bread and water. An important symbolic meaning is missed with water. The bread represents the body of Christ and the wine (or grape juice in some denominations) stands for the blood of Jesus. What does water stand for? There is just no significance to this.
Even in Mormon history, water was not always used. For more on this topic, click here.
1 Corinthians 11:11
In God’s plan, men and women need each other.
In 1 Corinthians 11:4–15, Paul referred to cultural customs that we do not follow today. However, Paul also taught an important truth that applies eternally, found in verse 11. What do you think this verse means, and why is it important? Elder David A. Bednar taught, “The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 42). How should this truth influence a marriage? How should it affect the way we serve in the Church?
Verse 11 is often cited by Latter-day Saint leaders to acknowledge marriage ceremonies in LDS temples throughout the world. In Mormonism, the man and woman need each other not only in this life but the next as well. That is why the author of this paragraph wrote that it “applies eternally.” According to this religon, procreation will take place in the eternities for those faithful Latter-day Saints who qualify for celestial glory. This type of marriage is not just for “time” but for “eternity.” However, this is not a teaching given in the Bible or believed by Christians at any time in history. For more on this topic, click here.
1 Corinthians 12–13
Spiritual gifts are given to benefit all of Heavenly Father’s children.
The list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12–13 is not exhaustive. But it is a good place to start as you identify and ponder the spiritual gifts Heavenly Father has given you. The article “Spiritual Gifts” in Gospel Topics (topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org) may help you understand these gifts better. As you read Paul’s list of gifts, you might add some you have noticed in others, in yourself, or in people in the scriptures. If you have a patriarchal blessing, it may mention some of your spiritual gifts. How do these gifts help you bless others? Consider how you can seek “earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
A “patriarchal blessing” is mentioned here as a resource of identifying one’s spiritual gifts. Generally, I believe most patriarchal blessings are “cookie cutter,” with one size fits all. General prophecies can be given in these settings, but they are usually so generic that there can be little application anyone could get. To think that an old man (“patriarch”) who might not know the person very well is capable of determining their spiritual gifts is quite the long shot. If he does get it right, could it possibly be just a lucky guess? Or perhaps he knows the person better than most.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
1 Corinthians 12:3
Why is the Holy Ghost necessary to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ? What can we do to invite the Holy Ghost to strengthen our testimonies of Him?
The Bible teaches that, without the Spirit of God, a person cannot be a Christian. Studied in last week’s lesson, Romans 8:9 says that we are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit “if the Spirit of God lives in you.” Verse 14 adds that those “who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” It is therefore key for a person to be baptized in the Spirit and become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Without the Spirit, it is impossible to be forgiven of sins and it is impossible to live the Christian life.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8.
Paul’s definition of charity might make an inspiring motto for your family. You could assign each family member to study a phrase in verses 4–8 and teach the rest of the family what it means using definitions, examples, and personal experiences. How is the Savior an example of these attributes? You could also make posters together for each of these phrases and display them throughout your house. Be creative!
Is this all we get from 1 Corinthians 13? In my opinon, this is a shallow exercise and offers poor commentary on such a powerful passage.
I’m not tring to beat my criticism into the ground, but anyone who believes he or she is doing a legitimate “Bible” study by following along in this series is sadly mistaken. To run through so many chapters and not provide sufficient teaching as to what the Bible is saying is a sad commentary on the state of these lessons. Nobody should consider this series a study in the New Testament.