Being a Steward of God’s Resources, Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Bible Study Material on 1 Cor. 4:1-7


This study presents the Church members and for that matter the body of Christ as stewards of God’s resources. By this Paul is of the view that believers are required to be faithful.

The role of the steward

In biblical times, a steward owned nothing.  The steward was a slave who managed his or his master’s wealth. Genesis 24 for instance gives a picture of the oriental steward as one who handled Abraham’s wealth and worked for him. Luke 12:35,15:1-8, 16:12-27 and Matthew 25:14-30 identify a similar role. The pastor is a servant who is a steward. The word “minister” in 1 Cor. 4:1 is literally “the slave who rows on the lowest level of a boat.” What humility Paul had!

A steward’s responsibility is to be faithful to the Master. The pastor’s responsibility, for instance, is to be faithful to teach the things of the Lord, especially those truths that relate to the mystery of the church. His own master will judge him according to his faithfulness. How tragic it is when believers judge different workers and compare one with another.

Stewardship and judgment

In 1 Cor. 4:3-5, Paul presents three kinds of judgment: First is the judgment of the people. Paul seems not to be afraid of these people. The second is self-judgment. Paul says he “knows nothing against himself” (not “by” himself). The last has to do with the judgment of God which is the only true judgment.

The Corinthians were evaluating different servants of God, comparing one with another, and thinking of themselves to be very spiritual. Paul told them they were carnal believers and that their judgment meant nothing to a spiritual servant of God. A true servant of God is a steward of God’s wealth, and his only concern is pleasing God, not men. At the “judgment seat of The Messiah,” God will reveal the secrets and give out the rewards, and every man will have his own reward (1 Cor. 3:8) and his own glory from God (1 Cor. 4:5). To live for the praise of humans is to be false to our stewardship.

Being the steward of our godly leaders

In 1 Cor. 4:6-7, Paul summarizes the whole matter: they were not to go beyond the Word of God and treat people other than as Scripture allows. They were to love and honour their spiritual leaders and obey them as they teach the Word. To compare one leader with another, or to give glory to one over another, was contrary to God’s Word and should be avoided. After all, it is God who makes one believer different from another.  Every gift a believer has come from God!  We are therefore called upon not to boast over our gifts.


From the perspective of Paul, the important thing for stewards was faithfulness. Stewards have to be efficient managers of the master’s resources. The steward never owned the property or resource under his or her care. The steward simply managed it for the master and had to manage it faithfully.

A Builder of God’s Church, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible Study Material on 1 Cor. 3:10-23


This lesson on 1 Cor 3:10-23 looks at the image of the Church as a building (God’s Temple). In this regard, Paul uses himself and the other leaders in the Corinthian Church as builders of the Church. Specifically, an attempt is made to reflect on Paul’s caution of the believers about how they are to build God’s Church.

Perspectives on 1 Cor 3:10-23

This text appears to be one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible. The Roman Catholics use it to “support” their doctrine of purgatory.” To them, the fire will purify people in the next life and make them fit for heaven.  The modernists use it to “prove” salvation by good works.  And many evangelical believers interpret this section as applying to the judgment of individual believers rather than the building of the local church.

While this passage teaches that there will be a judgment of believers’ works at the judgment seat of the Messiah, the basic application is to workers and pastors of the local churches. In this case, the local church is compared to a building or a temple. The pastor is a builder whose responsibility is to keep the materials in the temple at their very best.  Paul was the builder God used to lay the foundation at Corinth. And that foundation was Jesus as preached in the Gospel.  Along came Apollos, who built upon that foundation, and other pastors followed him. From Paul’s point of view, “Each one should be careful how he builds” (1 Cor 3:10).

Three kinds of workers in God’s Church

From 1 Cor. 3:14-17, Paul seems to describe three kinds of builders in God’s church.

The wise builder (1 Cor. 3:14)

The first worker uses lasting materials (gold, silver, jewels) and not the cheap, shabby things of the world (wood, hay, stubble). This builder seeks to honour the Lord, aiming for quality that will glorify Him—not quantity that will win the praise of people. Wise builders use the Word of God.  They pray and depend on the Spirit.  As a result, their work is lasting. When the fire tries their work in glory, it will stand!

The worldly builder (1 Cor. 3:15)

The second builder uses materials that cannot stand the test. This is the worker who is in a hurry to build a crowd but does not take the time to build a church. The materials come from the world—wood, hay, stubble. These workers do not test people’s confessions of faith by the Word to see if they are truly born again.  They merely take them into the church and rejoice in bigger statistics. When this ministry is tested in eternity, it will burn up. The worker will be saved, but there will be no reward. Like Lot, the worker will be saved, as by fire.

The destroyer (1 Cor. 3:17)

Finally, the destroyer does not build the church but tears it down. The word “defile” in 1 Cor. 3:17 really means, “destroy.” It takes no talent or intelligence to tear something down.  Even a child (and the Corinthians were like babies) can destroy something. Sad to say, there are believers whose selfish ministries destroy local churches instead of building them up. God has a severe judgment awaiting them.

Exhortation and application

It is important to keep in mind that Paul’s motif for saying all this is to teach the Corinthian believers to love and respect their pastors.  In addition, to pray for them because they had this tremendous task of building the local church for God’s glory. The believer who follows just the preacher is helping to build with wood, hay, and stubble. The church member, who loves the Word, obeys the pastor’s teaching of the Word.  He/She seeks to keep the local church at its best spiritually and is helping the pastor build with gold, silver and precious stones. The judgment seat of Jesus Christ will reveal that many great churches were not great at all.

In 1 Cor. 2:5, Paul warned the Corinthians not to trust in men.  Now he warns them not to glory in men (1 Cor. 3:18-23). Immature believers love to be around and glory in “great men and women of God.” Paul refers to Job 5:13 and Psalms 94:11 in verses 19 and 20. We are encouraged not to glory in people when in Jesus, we have all things. If Paul or Apollos was a blessing to them, they should glorify God and not the men.


As “plots of land” in God’s garden (1 Cor. 3:6-9), we receive the seed of the Word and bear fruit. As living stones in the temple (1 Cor. 3:10-15, and 1 Peter 2:4-8), we help the temple grow and be strong for the glory of God. The lives that we live help to determine whether the church is being built with gold, silver, and precious stones, or wood, hay, and stubble. Believers are not to glorify their pastors but are to respect them and obey them as to the Lord (Hebrews 13:17).


  1. State three ways that 1 Cor 3:10-23 has often been interpreted.
  2. Name and explain the three kinds of workers in God’s Church as a building.
  3. What kind of worker are you in God’s Church?
  4. Describe three desirable attitudes of Church members towards Pastors.

Belonging to the Local Church as a Spiritual Garden, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible Study material on 1 Cor 3:6-9


We have studied 1 Cor 3:1-5 and learnt that Paul responds to the issue of carnality in the Corinthian Church by emphasising that ministers of the gospel are to be regarded as servants of God by using the image of the family. This study of 1 Cor 3:6-9 focuses on the image of the field. In other words, Paul seems to present the local church as a spiritual garden.

Describing the Local Church as a Spiritual Garden

Having changed the image from a family to that of a field, Paul now portrays the minister as a farmer working in the field. The seed is the Word of God (note the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1) and the hearts of the people are the different kinds of soil. The local church is a “spiritual garden” where the pastor acts as the gardener (note 1 Cor 3:9, “You are God’s gardener”).

Members as Labourers together with God

Members on the field or farm play equally important roles. On any farm, many different workers are needed. One prepares the soil; another plants the seed; a third pulls the weeds and a fourth reaps the harvest. But all of them share in the harvest and each receives wages. To Paul, therefore, it is unwise to compare one worker with another since “we are all working together.” Paul planted the seed by founding the church at Corinth.  Apollos came along and watered the seed by his preaching and ministering.  Only God can give the harvest. Apollos and Paul deserve no glory! They are nothing, but God is everything! The church was divided over human leaders.  But Paul says in verse 8 that the workers are one, united in purpose and heart.  Therefore, the church should also be one.

Do not compare the workers in the Local Church

In view of the fact that members in the field play equally important roles, it is sad for believers to compare pastors, evangelists and Bible teachers in the way the people of the world compare athletes or movie stars! “Laborers together” must always be our motto and motive. As members of the local church, we must take care that the soil of our own hearts is not hard and cold and unable to receive the seed of the Word.


From Paul’s response to the issue of division and carnality in the Corinthian Church, it has become clear that the members of the Corinthian church had failed to understand the true nature of ministry thereby rallying around gifted personality. Paul thus values the ministers’ ministry more than their personality. As ministers exercise their spiritual gifts, it is God who gives them growth. The true minister in the local church is first a servant and second a sower in the field. As ministers in one field, we are all working together. The congregation is thus God’s field. In this light, there should not be room for any kind of division in God’s Church.


  1. To what extent is the local church likened to a garden?
  2. How do we see the roles of ministers of God in the local Church which is a spiritual garden.?
  3. State two ways in which we can prepare our hearts to receive God’s word as members of the local church.

Responding to the Issue of Carnality in the Church, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible Study Material on 1 Cor 3:1-5


In our previous lesson, we studied Paul’s description of two kinds of people and spirits. In 1 Cor 2:14, Paul speaks about the natural man who lives in the Adamic nature and rejects the things of the Spirit. Paul also describes the spiritual man in 1 Cor 2:15 as those who understand the things of God. This lesson on 1  Cor 3:1-5  focuses on the carnal persons who know the things of God, but in some ways are still characterized by the flesh.

Carnal conditions in the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 3:1-2)

Paul confronts the carnal conditions of the Corinthian Church. The fact that Paul addresses the Corinthians as brethren implies that they belong to the family of God but they are not living like spiritual people. Thus, to Paul, the Corinthians lived as fleshly people who are immature Christians and babes in Christ. From Paul’s line of thinking, these Christians think and act according to the flesh and not the Spirit.

Evidence of carnalities in the Corinthians Church (1 Cor 3:3-4)

Paul was of the view that the Corinthians were babes in Jesus and could not receive the solid meat of the Word, the deeper truths of the Scriptures (Hebrews 5:11-14) about the heavenly ministry of Jesus. He had to feed them with milk like a nurse! Just like little children they argued and divided themselves into groups, following human leaders. James 3:13-4:17 gives reasons why there are wars and divisions in the church and pictures the carnal state of the believer.

Ministers and carnalities in the Church (1 Cor 3:5)

The word “minister” used in this context is the same word from which we get our word “deacon,” and it means “a servant.” For eighteen months Paul was Christ’s servant in Corinth, feeding the people God’s Word, disciplining them, encouraging them, and helping them win others. If there were problems in the Church, it was not Paul’s fault. It was their fault for being such immature believers. They were babes. A true pastor must be a servant. He or she must have a servant’s mind (Philippians 2) and be willing to put Jesus first, others second and self last. This is not always easy to do! We must pray for our spiritual leaders, that God will give them grace and strength to be servants to others.

Conclusion and application

This lesson has looked at the issue of carnality in the Corinthians Church. The problem of carnality centred around their relationships with humans which shows that they had a problem in their relationship with God. This revealed their carnality, fleshy way of thinking and lifestyle. Worth observing here is that the envy, strife and divisions in the Corinthian Church are not the only signs of carnality but they were most evident in the Church. As Christians, we are called upon to walk in the Spirit and not to do otherwise.

Two Kinds of Spirits and People in the World Today, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible study material on 1 Cor 2:9-16


This lesson continues Paul’s explanation of the gospel that he preached. Having contrasted the wisdom of God to the wisdom of men in 1 Cor 2:1-8, this study on  1 Cor 2:9-16 throws more light on the two Spirits in the world and that of two kinds of people in the world today.

The Two Spirits in the World Today (2:9-13)

      a.  The Spirit of this World (2:12)

Paul is of the view that Satan is certainly the energizing spirit in the world today (Ephesians 2:1-3). He has given lost men a “wisdom” that inflates their egos and blinds their minds.  Satan has led them away from the simple truths of the Word of God. The fact that the great centres of learning today do not want the Bible seems to support this perspective. For they reject the deity of the Messiah and the need for salvation through the cross. This ignorance led men to crucify the Messiah—and men (even “learned” men) have been crucifying Jesus ever since.

      b.  The Spirit of God

We must never forget that the Holy Spirit is the One who teaches us the things of God. In verse 9, Paul refers to Isaiah 64:4 and states that God has prepared wonderful things for God’s children here and now. God has prepared these blessings for us today! How does God reveal these blessings to us—through His Spirit (verse 10)? Just as a man’s spirit within him understands what outsiders never know, so the Spirit of God understands the heart and mind of God and reveals these truths to us through the Word. God wants His children to understand and not be in the dark. This is why He has given us the Word of God and the Spirit to teach us.

Note that the Spirit teaches us in words (verse 13). Here we have the verbal inspiration of the Bible—the very words given by the Spirit.” (verse 13) Here it says “explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.” The truth is clearly given that the Bible is the Word of God, given by the Spirit of God. We either trust God’s Word, taught by God’s Spirit, or the words of men.

The Two Kinds of People in the World Today (2:14-16)

    a.  The Natural Man

This man is the unsaved man, the man who belongs to the world and is happy in it. He cannot receive the things of the Spirit (the Word) because he does not have spiritual discernment.  He does not have the Spirit dwelling within his mind and body. His spirit is dead to the things of God.  In fact, the things of the Spirit are foolishness to him! In 1:23, Paul states that the Greeks thought the Gospel was foolishness. The Greeks were great philosophers but their philosophy could not explain a God who died on the cross, or, for that matter, a God who even cares about people. Their gods were not interested in the problems of people.  The Greek attitude toward the human body was such that they could not conceive of God coming in human flesh. 

      b.  The Spiritual Man

This man is the believer who is controlled by the Spirit. (In the next chapter, Paul will deal with the believer controlled by the flesh—the carnal man.) The spiritual man is a man of discernment and is able to judge and evaluate things with God’s insights. This is true wisdom.

The people of the world have a great deal of knowledge, but they lack spiritual wisdom. We could paraphrase verse 15 like this: “The spiritual person understands the things of the Spirit and has wisdom, but the people of the world cannot understand the things of the spirit of God.” We are a puzzle to the unbeliever!

The spiritual person has the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2). This means that the Spirit, through the Word, helps the believer think as Jesus thinks. It is an amazing thing to say that human beings possess the very mind of God! Down through the years, spiritual believers have predicted things that the people of the world said could never happen, but these events came to pass. The spiritually minded saint understands more about the affairs of this world from his Bible than the leaders of the world understand from their human perspective.


In 1 Cor 1-2, Paul has been emphasizing the message of the Gospel and the warning that we must not mix it with human wisdom or human philosophy. In the next two chapters, he will deal with the ministry of the Gospel and show that we must take our eyes off of people and keep them on Jesus alone.


  1. State two kinds of people in the world.
  2. Differentiate between the spirit of this world and the Spirit of God.
  3. Is it possible for a Christian to be controlled by the Spirit of this world?

The Content of Paul’s Preaching in the Corinthian Church, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Text:1 Cor 2:1-8


Today’s lesson on 1 Cor 2:1-8 continues on Paul’s discussion of the sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It specifically studies Paul’s explanation of the Gospel that he preached in contrast with the wisdom of humans. 

Understanding the context of 1 Cor 2:1-8

There were believers at Corinth who admired the philosophies of men. It is most probable that the oratory of Apollos encouraged this.  They thought that the church would be better off using human wisdom and philosophy to win converts rather than the simple and despised message of the cross.

The Two Messages Paul Preached (2:1-8)

A study of 1 Cor 2:1-8 shows that Paul preached two messages namely the Gospel of Jesus and the mystery of God which is the deep wisdom of God.

The Gospel

When Paul came to Corinth, it was from a seeming defeat at Athens (Acts 17:32-34) where he addressed the Greek philosophers but won few converts. This experience, plus his conviction that only the plain Gospel is the power of God, led Paul to minister in Corinth in fear and trembling. Paul explains that he did not use the persuasive words of the orator or philosopher.  He simply preached in the power of the Spirit.  He was anxious that the believers put their faith in God and not in people. It is sad when pastors or evangelists make converts to themselves and fail to teach people how to walk with Jesus alone. It is also sad when believers have to lean on other believers and never learn to walk on their own. In chapter 3, Paul describes these believers as “babes in Jesus” (3:1-4).

The Mystery

But Paul did not stop with a mere declaration of the Gospel, as important as that is. He also taught a deep wisdom of God to those who were more mature in the faith. But, there were few of these in Corinth! These people had their eyes on human leaders, were comparing men, and were failing to grow in the Word.

The pastor and teachers must declare the Gospel to the lost, but it is also necessary that they teach God’s wisdom to those who are maturing in the faith. It is impossible to build a strong church on the preaching of the Gospel alone.  There must be the teaching of the plan and the “mystery” of God. A mystery is a truth hidden in the ages past revealed by the Spirit to those who belong to God’s family. It is a “family secret” known only to the members, not the outsiders. Of course, the mystery that Paul taught at Corinth was the program of God for the present age as outlined in Ephesians 2-3: that Jew and Gentile are “one in Christ” through faith, and make up the one body which is the church.

Paul seems to imply here that the “rulers of this world” could never know this mystery or hidden wisdom of God.   It is understood only through the prompting of the Spirit. Many professed believers do not really understand God’s purpose for this age! This is why our churches are still cluttered with Old Testament “antiques” that do not belong to this age.

Contrasting the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world

In chapters 1 and 2 of 1 Corinthians, Paul contrasted the wisdom of this world with the wisdom of God. The table below provides us with a summary:

Wisdom of this worldWisdom of God
1. A wisdom of word (1:17; 2:4)1. A wisdom of power, not words alone (2:4-5)
2. Man’s words (2:4)2. The Spirit’s words (2:13)
3. The spirit of the world (2:12)3. The Spirit of God (2:12)
4. Foolishness to God (1:20)4. Foolishness to men (2:14)
5. The philosopher (1:20)5. The preacher (1:31; 2:4)
6. Ignorance (1:21)6. Knowledge of God (2:12)
7. Leads to condemnation (1:18)7. Leads to glory (1:18; 2:7)

Conclusion and application

This study of 1 Cor 2:1-8 has focused on the content of Paul’s message that he preached at Corinth. Contrary to preaching a message that reflects the wisdom of humans, Paul preached the mysteries and the gospel of Christ. It is important to note that Paul was someone who could reason and debate convincingly, but he did not use that strategy in preaching the gospel. Instead, he determined to emphasise Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Thus Paul did not tailor his message to what the audience wanted. He was aware that the Jews demanded signs and the Greeks wanted wisdom. Yet he chose to preach the Gospel of Jesus. We must determine to preach the gospel without compromising the content.


  1. In what ways can we be tempted to water down the message of the gospel?
  2. What were the two messages that Paul preached?
  3. State three differences between the wisdom of God and that of humans in the context of 1 Cor 1-2.

The sufficiency of the gospel, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible Studies Material on 1 Cor 1:17-31


In our previous lesson, we studied about the division in the Corinthian Church and Paul’s response to it. This material focuses on Paul’s skillful response to the issue by pointing them to the sufficiency of the gospel of Christ.

Understanding the context of 1 Cor 1-2.

The Corinthian believers were divided and not living up to who they were in Christ. For they were mixing the Gospel with the wisdom of the world. They were also glorying in humans and were thus confused about the meaning of the Gospel ministry.

Proofs about the sufficiency of the gospel

Paul deals with the wisdom of the world in contrast to the wisdom of God, and in 1 Cor 1:17-3, gives certain proofs to show that the gospel is sufficient for all people.        

a. Paul’s commission (1 Cor 1:17)

Paul’s conviction was that he was sent to preach the Gospel alone, not the Gospel plus human philosophies. This implies that we must guard against mixing anything with the Gospel.

b. Personal experience (1 Cor 1:8)

Both Paul and the Corinthian Church had experienced the Gospel’s power personally. Therefore, the gospel is the power of God for those who are been saved. From the perspective of Paul, however, it is foolishness to those who are perishing.

c.  Scripture (1:19-20)

Paul quotes Isaiah 19:12, 29:14, and 33:18 to prove that God does not need the world’s wisdom; in fact, God will destroy it!

d.  Human history (1 Cor 1:20-21)

With all its “wisdom,” the world was not able to find God or salvation. When we trace human history, we discover a record of humans gaining more and more knowledge, but less and less real wisdom, especially about spiritual matters. Romans 1:18-32 seems to imply that the world turned from God. God’s plan was so simple and unique that it seemed to be foolishness to the world! God saves those who believe in what is said about Jesus Christ.

e.  Paul’s ministry (1 Cor 1: 22-25)

Paul had preached to Jews and Gentiles across the Roman world. He knew that the Jews looked for miraculous signs and the Greeks looked for philosophical wisdom. But God bypassed both ways to make salvation available through a crucified Jesus. This message about a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews, whose idea of Christ was far different.  It was foolishness to the Greeks because it seemed contrary to their philosophical systems. But Paul saw that this “foolish Gospel” was God’s power and wisdom to those Jews and Greeks who were called. Jesus is our wisdom and power; He is all we need.

f.  Their own calling (1 Cor 26-29)

“If God needs human wisdom and glory,” says Paul, “then why did He ever call you?” There were not many mighty people in the church at Corinth, not many nobles or worldly-wise people. But God still saved them! God deliberately hides His truth from “the wise and prudent” and reveals Himself to the humble. Think about the history of the Bible and recall how God called the “nobodies” of history, making great leaders out of them—Abraham, Moses, Gideon and David.

           g.   The Sufficiency of Jesus (1 Cor 1:30-31)

Every saint is “in Jesus the Messiah” (1 Cor 1:30-31) and Jesus is to every saint all that he or she ever needs. When it comes to spiritual things, we don’t need human wisdom or power because we have Jesus. He is our redemption, our righteousness, our wisdom, our all. To add anything to the Messiah or His sacrifice on the cross is to diminish Him and His work and rob them of their power. Whenever believers take their eyes off Jesus and start depending on, trusting in, and glorifying human, then they cause divisions. Such divisions rob the church of its power.


This lesson has looked at Paul’s response to the issue of division in the Corinthian Church. To Paul, the reason for the division in the Church was their misunderstanding of the Gospel message. They confused the message of the gospel with the message of humans. As a response to this challenge, the sufficiency of the gospel has been looked at. In this case, Paul’s experience and ministry of the gospel, history and scripture all prove that the gospel is sufficient for all.


  1. What was the main reason for division in the Corinthian Church?
  2. Give four proofs that show that the gospel is sufficient for all people.
  3. The Gospel is centered around the crucified Christ. Explain.

Paul’s response to the division in the Corinthian Church, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Text: 1:10-16


In the previous lesson on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, we learnt that Paul introduces his letter in the form of an overture by commending the believers at Corinth. Paul does that by reminding them about their spiritual blessings in Christ. The Corinthians were called, graced and gifted by God and they had hope from God and testimony for God. Having tactfully commended them, Paul begins to discuss their weaknesses and for that matter their sins. This lesson then focuses on the matter of church divisions.

The challenge of division in the Corinthian Church

Paul responds first to the matter of church divisions that had come to him from the household of Chloe, and also from the friends who visited him (16:17-18). It is apparent here that bad news of church problems spreads so rapidly while the good news of the Gospel never seems to spread quickly at all. To Paul, therefore, there were divisions and contentions in the church (1 Cor 3:3, 11:18, and 12:25) that was obvious even at the Lord’s Table (1 Cor 11:20-34)! Paul pleads with them to be “perfectly joined together” (1 Cor 1:10). The Greek used here for this appeal is a medical term that refers to the setting of a bone that was broken or out of joint. The implication here is that whenever believers cannot get along, the body of Christ which is the church suffers.

Reasons for the division in the Corinthian Church

Paul explains why the Corinthian Church was divided. They had their eyes on the people who were their leaders instead of on Christ. It seems clear here that in the first place, the believers were trusting in the wisdom of men (1 Cor 2:5). Secondly, they were glorying in the works of men (1 Cor 3:21) and, in the third place, they were comparing one servant with another and boasting about men (1 Cor 4:6). In 1 Cor 3, Paul proves that this obsession with human leaders was a mark of carnal living, demonstrating that these “spiritual Corinthians” were actually babes in Christ.

The four factions in the Corinthian Church

This section of our studies focuses on describing the divisions of the groups that existed in the Corinthian Church. These groups centred around individual leaders in the Church. It is important to point out that the understanding of this situation of the Corinthian Church concerning their spiritual allegiance around persons has a greater understanding of all the issues discussed in the entire letter of 1 Corinthians.

  1. One group followed Paul, and they may have been predominantly Gentiles because he was the apostle to the Gentiles. John Drane describes this group as the “‘Paul Party’ who would consist of libertines, people who had heard Paul’s original preaching on the freedom of the Christian and concluded from it that, once they had responded to the Christian gospel, they could live as they liked.”
  2. Another group followed Apollos, the learned orator (Acts 18:24-28), probably because they enjoyed his wonderful speaking. In the observation of John Drane, “‘Apollos Party’ was probably devotees of classical Greek outlook. Acts 18:24-28 tells us that Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, an eloquent man, well versed in the scripture. In Alexandria, many Jewish teachers lived and taught. One of them was Philo (20 BC-AD 45) who sought to show that all that was in Greek philosophy had actually been foreshadowed by Moses and other Old Testament writers. Apollos’ group is likely to enjoy teachings of this kind.”
  3. The third group, probably Jews, leaned toward Peter, the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:7). John Drane observes that they were the “‘Cephas Party’ is believed to be legalists who like the Judaizers in Jerusalem, believed that the Christian life meant the strict observance of the Jewish Law, both ritual and moral. Many of them had probably been Jews or Gentile “God-fearers” before they converted to Christianity.”
  4. The fourth group tried to prove it was more spiritual than the rest by following “Jesus alone” and rejecting human leaders. According to Drane, “‘Christ Party’ probably consisted of a group of men and women who considered themselves to be above the groups that had developed around the personalities of ordinary men. The assumption is that they wanted the same direct contact with Christ (Himself), in the same way as they had experienced direct mystical contacts with gods in the pagan Eastern Mystery Religions.”

How Paul skillfully responds to the issue

Paul explains that Jesus is not divided. We are all part of one body (1 Cor 12:12-31). Jesus, not human leaders, died for us; and we are baptized in the name of Jesus, not the names of human leaders!  Paul goes on to say that he is happy he did not baptize more believers in Corinth than he did, lest the division be even worse. Paul’s helpers in the ministry did the baptizing since Paul’s special commission was to evangelize. This fact does not reduce the significance of Baptism in any way. Acts 18:8 informs us that many of the Corinthians believed and were baptized, so Paul practised water baptism.


This lesson has focussed on Paul’s address on the issue of division in the Corinthian Church. To Paul, the divisions existed because the Corinthianshad their eyes on their leaders instead of on Christ. It seems obvious that comparing one servant with others and boasting about men (1 Cor 4:6) is not good for Church health. Consequently, any mark of division in God’s Church shows carnal Christian life. We are therefore encouraged to maintain the unity of the church.


  1. How did Paul get to know the problems of division in the Corinthian Church?
  2. Describe the division in the Corinthian Church.
  3. What causes division in contemporary Churches, especially African Churches in the diaspora?
  4. How did Paul respond to the issue of division and what can we learn from it?

Knowing our spiritual blessings in Christ (1:1-9), Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Text: 1 Cor 1:1-9 (NIV):

1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


This lesson introduces us to the in-depth verse-by-verse studies of the book of 1 Corinthians. Most tactfully, Paul opened his letter by reminding the believers of the wonderful blessings they had in Christ in chapter 1. Paul does that before reproving them for their sin. For they were living beneath their privileges as believers. It seems to Paul that the Corinthians were not walking in a manner worthy of their calling in Jesus (Ephesians 4:1).

Spiritual blessings in Christ

Paul identifies some of the spiritual blessings of the Corinthians that they were ignoring and thus depriving themselves of spiritual power.  These include:

  1. Called of God (1 Cor 1: 2)

To Paul, the Corinthians were called by God. This means that they were sanctified (set apart) and members of that elect group, which is the church.  Paul is by this assuring the Corinthians about who they were in Christ. To Paul, therefore, they were not living like saints, but they were saints!

2. Grace of God (1 Cor 1: 3-4)

Grace means that God gives us what we don’t deserve; mercy means He doesn’t give us what we do deserve. This grace came through Jesus Christ by faith.

3. Gifts from God (1 Cor 1:5 and 7)

Paul expresses his deep appreciation to God for endowing the Corinthians with many spiritual gifts. Paul discusses spiritual gifts later in chapters 12-14.  The Corinthians were wonderfully blessed with spiritual gifts, especially the gifts that have to do with an utterance (1 Cor 14:26). The Corinthians were enriched with knowledge, too. To Paul, however, despite all their gifts and knowledge, they lacked love (1 Cor 13:1-3). They could not get along with each other. It is worthy of note that spiritual gifts do not take the place of spiritual graces.

4. Testimony for God (1 Cor 6)

Everything Paul said concerning what Jesus could do for them came to pass in their lives. Thus Paul was convinced that God’s Word came true in their lives.

5. Hope from God (1 Cor 7-9)

To Paul, the Corinthians were eagerly waiting for Jesus to return in addition to possessing every spiritual gift. Meanwhile, they were not living in the light of Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28). Paul seems to imply here that though the Corinthians were sinful on earth, God would be able to present them as blameless in heaven. This passage should not be used as an excuse for sin. It should rather be seen as an encouragement that God is faithful even though we may fail God.

Conclusion and application

This lesson has sought to introduce us to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It has been established that Paul has sought to commend the Corinthians by reminding them of their spiritual blessings in Christ. They were the called, sanctified people who were endowed with much grace, gifts and full of hope. Most importantly, these virtues serve as an overture of what Paul would write about in the story that follows. To begin, Paul’s description of himself as a called to be an Apostle in 1 Cor 1:1 is later elaborated in 1 Cor 9. Paul’s address of the Corinthian believers as “those who are sanctified” and “called to be saints” in 1 Cor 1: 2, will later, however, demonstrate several ways that they have failed to live holy lives. Next, Paul’s commendation of the Corinthians as endowed with the grace of speech and knowledge in verse 5, will later be taught by Paul that eloquent speech and great knowledge have no value apart from Christian love. Relatedly, Paul’s mention of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 1:7 introduces the reader to what would later be discussed in 1 Cor 12-14. Significantly, reading 1 Cor 1:1-9 should remind us about the need to show deep appreciation to God and to the people who are in Christ about their God-given blessings before any attempt to remind them of any kind of possible spiritual weaknesses that they might face.

1 Corinthians Introduced, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu


In our attempt to build relationships in Christ as our focus, it is important to study the book of 1 Corinthians.  This lesson studies the introduction of 1 Corinthians. Here the overview, the city of Corinth, the Church and the theological themes will be looked at in brief.

Overview of 1 Corinthians

Like a chameleon lizard which changes its colour according to its surroundings for protective reasons and to aid in its survival, many Christians easily change their lifestyles to fit in and adapt to their environment.  However, believers of Christ are new creations.  They are born from above and changed from within.  They have values and lifestyles that confront the world and clash with accepted morals.  Unlike Chameleons, true believers don’t blend in very well. 

The believers in Corinth were struggling with their environment which affected their relationships. They were surrounded by corruption and every conceivable sin.  They felt the pressure to adapt.  They knew they were free in Jesus, but what did this freedom mean?  How should they view idols or sexuality?  What should they do about marriage?  What should they do about women in the church?  And what should they do about gifts of the Spirit?  The church was being undermined by immorality and spiritual immaturity.

Paul heard of their struggles and wrote this letter to address their problems, heal their divisions and answer their questions.  Paul confronted them with their sin and their need for corrective action and a clear commitment to Jesus.  Paul’s letter to the Corinthians calls all believers to be careful not to blend in with the world and accept its values and lifestyles.  We must live Jesus –centred, blameless and loving lives that make a difference for God.  As we read and study 1 Corinthians, let us examine our values in light of complete commitments to Jesus Christ.

Paul as the author

Paul was a Jew by birth and from the tribe of Benjamin. His Hebrew name was Saul. He had a Roman citizenship in which his Roman name was Paul. Before his conversion, Paul received training as a Pharisee and Rabbi under Gameliel. Paul could speak Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. It can be said that this dynamic and diverse linguistic background of Paul to some extent contributed to the reason why God commissioned him as an Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul was indeed a man of rich multicultural background. Paul’s initial Israelite religious heritage and practice grounded in the Old Testament and shaped by his Pharisaic commitment probably prepared him to be a man of prayer and a man who had in depth knowledge in the word of God. An experience that shaped Paul’s spirituality was his encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus.

How many letters did Paul write to the Corinthians?

It is commonly believed among bilical scholars that Paul wrote four letters to the Corinthian Church with two letters being lost. His first letter is described as the previous letter which was lost (I Cor. 5:9). Paul’s second letter has thus come to be known as the 1 Corinthians. The third letter is reffered to as the severe letter which also got lost (possibly part of which is recorded in II Cor. 2:1-11; 7:8-12). Then he wrote the last letter which is now II Corinthians.

The City of Corinth

Corinth was a  very important seaport city of Greece that was characterized by commerce, culture, and corruption. Lawsuits were the mode of settling disputes. Even sons could sue their fathers. Religiously, the people of Corinth were noted for their worship of Aphrodite who was the Goddess of Love. To the service and honour of this goddess were 1000 cult prostitutes. There were also mystery cults from Egypt and Asia. Having a population of about 700,000 people the city was also described as an immoral city. To say a “Corinthian girl” meant a loose person. Moreover, the phenomenon of worldly wisdom was perceived to be a religion. Thus there were the Gnostics, Epicureans and Stoics.

The Church

Paul visited Corinth on his second missionary journey, in 50 AD, after he had met with seeming failure in cultured Athens (Acts 18:1-17). He made friends with two Jewish tent-makers, Aquila and Priscilla, and stayed in Corinth for a year and a half. He reasoned with Jews in the synagogue week after week.  Silas and Timothy joined him after they had completed their ministry in Berea. The ruler of the synagogue, Crispus was converted and baptized by Paul (Acts 18:8, see also 1 Corinthians 1:14-16). Jesus gave Paul special encouragement to stay in Corinth (Acts 18:9).  After a year and a half, he departed for Ephesus. He left behind a church richly gifted in spiritual things (1 Corinthians 1:4-7), but sorely tempted by the worldly wisdom and the wickedness of the city itself.

In 55-56 AD, on Paul’s 3rd missionary journey, he returned to Ephesus where he remained for nearly three years (Acts 20:31).  Since Paul had been in Corinth, the spiritual conditions in the church had greatly deteriorated.  He may have received reports about this from friends in the church.  While Paul was in Ephesus, he likely wrote the Corinthians a letter mentioned in 5:9 [which we do not have] warning them not to associate with immoral and wicked “believers.”

From members of Chloe’s house (1:11) Paul learned that the Corinthian church had divided into factions.  He also received an inquiry from Corinth requesting his advice and guidance on certain questions of interest to the church (7:1). Probably, a delegation composed of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus may have brought these questions to Paul (16:17). based on the reports and the request, Paul wrote I Corinthians during the later part of his stay in Ephesus and sent it to the church.

Overview and Content of I Corinthians

This book is important theologically and practically.  Theologically, Paul presents many vital truths dealing with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and the role of the Holy Spirit in spiritual gifts. Practically, this letter demonstrates the personal abilities and character of Paul as pastor and church leader.  It demonstrates Paul’s wisdom and concern for the congregations and provides principles for us to follow as we deal with problems in our own churches.


  1. Explain the difference between Paul and Saul.
  2. To what extent can the city you live in be likened to the City of Corinth?
  3. What does it mean to “Corinthianise?”
  4. Give three ways in which the struggles with the environment affect your relationships.

“Born again” as a term for salvation, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible Study Material

Text: John 3:1-8 NIV

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]


This phrase “born again” refers to the inner spiritual renewal as a result of the power of God in a person’s life. The phrase “born again” comes from John 3:3, 7, where Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Jesus meant that all people are so sinful in God’s eyes that they need to be regenerated (re-created and renewed) by the sovereign activity of God’s Spirit (John 3:5–8). The only other occurrence of the term “born again” is found in 1 Peter 1:23. The phrase “new birth” occurs only once – in 1 Peter 1:3. The activity of God’s Spirit that regenerates sinful people comes about through faith in Jesus (John 3:10–21). Without faith there is no regeneration, and without regeneration a person does not have eternal life.

Regeneration occurs at the moment a person exercises faith in Jesus. At that point, his sins are forgiven and he is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new birth is a decisive, unrepeatable and irrevocable act of God. Similar words in the Bible describe the same concept. Paul said, “If anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Again speaking of John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that to have eternal life he must be born again. The term “new birth” denotes the fundamental change that occurs when a person surrenders his life to the Lord Jesus and is saved. His nature, desire, thoughts and the direction of his life are now in the hands of Jesus who is directing the changes.

Resisting the schemes of the enemy (Neh 6:10-14), by Rev Dr. John Kwasi Fosu


At this point in our studies on the book of Nehemiah, it has become clear that Nehemiah has faced number of oppositions in his task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Yet with a sense of focus, prayer, discipline, hard work and teamwork, Nehemiah has continued to build the wall to near completion. This study on Nehemiah 6:10-14 seeks to paint the picture of the schemes that the opponents to the project used and how Nehemiah dealt with them. The enemies used the schemes of enticing Nehemiah to sin, becoming cowardly and so to discredit him.

Nehemiah overcame the temptation to hide in the temple to save his life (Neh 6:10-11)

Neh 6:10-11 identifies a man named Shemaiah who seems to be a “secrete informer.” His effort was to hinder and discredit Nehemiah’s work. It is most probable that Shemaiah had to some extent barricaded himself as a way of showing fear and thereby motivating Nehemiah to do likewise. As a “secret informer,” Shemaiah attempted to give Nehemiah a piece of secret advice that the enemies had plotted to kill him. They would come at night to kill him, so the thing to do was to hide for protection in the temple. To Nehemiah, however, he was not to show such fear. He would not run away and would not go into the temple to save his own life. Thus, Nehemiah refused to take Shemaiah’s advice.  What makes this advice a temptation to sin was that, as pointed out in Neh 6:13, such an act would be a perversion of the purpose of the temple and a violation of its sanctity. For only priests should enter there and so to use it for personal protection would be disrespectful to its purpose. Moreover, demonstrating cowardice to flee and hide would be a hindrance to the work. In this case, Nehemiah could not effectively work from a place of hiding. If the people saw him being so cowardly, they too might become afraid and hide to protect themselves, instead of working.

Worth emphasising here is that we need to remember that sin is wrong in and of itself, even when done for personal protection from persecution. We are not to allow people to intimidate us to sin or to be disrespectful or cowardly. When we do that, then we allow them to discredit our work and defeat our efforts for good. It could be observed that merely fleeing in and hiding itself is not sinful. Some New Testament apostles, preachers, and Christians often fled for safety. They did not, however, stop their work of preaching the gospel.

Nehemiah discerned that the enemies had hired a false teacher to put fear into him (Neh 6:12-14)

Nehemiah discerned that Shemaiah’s advice was not from God or in harmony with God’s will. Shemaiah had been hired by Tobiah and Sanballat who were the enemies of God’s work. Shemaiah had presented this advice as something God would have Nehemiah do, or perhaps even something that God had revealed by prophecy (compare verse 14). It is dangerous to follow messages that claim to be from God, especially if those messages contradict God’s will.

This story implies that many false prophets are teaching for hire. They appear to have been paid by people to teach as they do. Do we have such prophets in contemporary times?

Nehemiah refused to compromise so he would not subject himself and his work to reproach. It has been already noted that Nehemiah realised that Shemaiah had been hired to tempt him to be afraid, hide in the temple and consequently sin. The overall intention was to discredit Nehemiah for his sin and cowardice. Had Nehemiah listened to this advice, he would have shown cowardice, neglected the work, and abused the purpose of the temple. It is clear from this passage that when people cannot intimidate God’s people to stop working for God, they often try to discredit them so other people will not listen to them or follow their teaching. They may try to do this through false accusations. If that plan does not work, then they try to get us to sin, so they can have grounds to accuse and discredit us. A similar issue is reflected in the story of Balaam and Balak (Revelation 2:14).

The implication from this matter is that leaders need to live courageously and in purity. At all costs, we need to avoid sin in the context of false teaching, temptation, threats, and intimidation. Failure to live pure lives will discredit our work and hinder God’s purpose.

Nehemiah again prayed to God to deal with his enemies (Neh 6:14)

Reading the book of Nehemiah indicates that Nehemiah was a man of prayer and so recognized the value of prayer in times of temptation and opposition. Nehemiah repeatedly turned to God in prayer for strength to deal with the enemies. The content of the prayer was that he asked God to remember the sinful acts of Tobiah and Sanballat. Nehemiah then mentioned prophetess Noadiah and other prophets who were involved in the attempt to make him afraid. This indicates that many were involved in the temptation of Nehemiah and that their attempt did involve the use of prophecy to try to frighten him.

The example of Nehemiah’s prayer shows that it is not wrong to call upon God to bring justice and punishment to evildoers. We are not called upon to take personal vengeance. Instead, we should leave vengeance to God. Reminding God that such people do deserve God’s punishment is appropriate.


  1. To what extent can a ‘prophetic message’ be a scheme of the enemy against our lives?
  2. In which forms do some people discredit Ministers of the gospel in contemporary times?
  3. Is it sometimes appropriate to pray to God to deal with our enemy?

Knowing the strategies of the enemy, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu


Nehemiah 2:19-20 brings out the theme of opposition first identified in 2:10. The main opposing figures are two. They are Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. Later accounts include Geshem the Arabian (Neh 2:19; 4:1). These men were greatly upset that someone had come to help the Israelites with their problems. Like Nehemiah, those serving God will inevitably encounter opposition. In this study, therefore, an attempt is made to look at the strategies that these identified adversaries used to oppose Nehemiah in building the wall of Jerusalem. Accordingly, we will look at how Nehemiah skillfully responded to these adversaries and thus what we can learn from each strategy. Before looking at their strategies, it is important that we briefly study their backgrounds.

Knowing Nehemiah’s Adversaries

Nehemiah’s efforts to building the wall encountered opposition by some people who could be identified as enemies. It is interesting to imagine that some people could just stand out to oppose a good project. Insightfully, it could be observed that these men were all enemies of the Jews.

Nehemiah 4:2 tells us that Sanballat belonged to the army of Samaria. This presupposes that he was part of the mixed breed of Samaritans who had been brought into the land by the Assyrians after they removed the northern tribes of Israel into captivity. In this case, they were not real Israelites and had no inheritance in Israel (2:20). Worshipping God was a perversion. They professed to serve God but included idol worship. Tobiah was an Ammonite. The Amonites were descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot. The Ammonites lived near the desert east of the Jordan River.

Geshem was an Arab. The Arabians have not been mentioned much in the Old Testament and they appear to have traveled from place to place without settling in any one area. By this time, however, at least some of these people must have lived in or near the area of Jerusalem. So they were not happy to see the Jews prosper.

All three of these men had some local authority and influence. It is most probable that they were among the governors because they reacted immediately after Nehemiah reported about his project.

It is most probable that our human opposers might be influenced by long family history or cultural traditions. It is worth trying to briefly look at some background information of our adversaries for a possible wise response.

The strategies that the enemy used to oppose the work

  1. Grieving  (Neh 2:10)
  2. Mockery (laughter) – (Neh 2:19)
  3. Wrath and indignation (Neh 4:1-3)
  4.  Fighting – (Neh 4:7-8)
  5. Subtlety or crafty (6:5-7).
  6. Accusation – (6:5-9)

Let us arise and build (Nehemiah 2:11-18), Rev. Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg, Bible study material


This studies on Nehemiah 2:11-19 focuses on the dynamics of sharing a vision and motivating others to engage in projects for transformational development. It brings out the essentials of motivating others for transformational development in the Church and our communities. In this light, the steps that Nehemiah took when he arrived in Jerusalem for the building of the wall of Jerusalem, to be discussed include, taking reflective rest, examination of the broken wall, inspiring confidence in some core team, communicating the vision and owning the vision by the people to rebuild the wall.

Examining and analysing the situation (Neh 2:11-15)

Upon reaching Jerusalem, as a first step, Nehemiah rested for three days. What he did in these three days is not clear in the passage. However, it is most probable that he used the time to thoughtfully plan his vision and mission. To accomplish a great task, planning should be key. Second, Nehemiah went on his fact-finding mission to have a fresh experience of the broken wall. In this effort, he went alone, especially at night. Worth learning from Nehemiah is that he did not only rely on the reports on the wall. He took time to investigate for himself before taking the next step.

Sharing the vision to rebuild the wall (Neh 2:16-17)

Nehemiah kept his plan of rebuilding the wall secrete. For the other officials of the Jews knew nothing about his plan. He had told them nothing of his purpose nor of his examination of the wall. In these verses and at this point, however, Nehemiah met with them and explained to them his intention. As a first step, Nehemiah motivated them by describing the problem they were facing. He explained to them about the distress they find themselves in because of the broken wall and the burning of the gate. It is important to state here that although the people knew the problem, they had not yet thought of the seriousness of the problem. In this case, Nehemiah encouraged them to build the wall so they would no longer be in reproach. The wall gave them security, power and influence. Also, building the wall related to restoring their favour and sense of dedication to God.

In relating Nehemiah’s call to rebuilding the wall to the building God’s church, it could be observed that sometimes, God’s church faces some internal and external problems. Sometimes the church has only a few committed members. Other times there are some doctrinal challenges, problems about immorality among members and the inability of the members to get along with other members. In all these challenges, the members need to be motivated to work and as a first attempt, we are called to describe to them in honest terms the problems that they face.

Nehemiah communicated his credibility and how God has been to him to the leaders

In motivating others to join in the project, Nehemiah also shared his credibility with the people. First, he told them about the good things that he had already accomplished. Nehemiah had the favour of God and that of the king in the diaspora. It is important to emphasize here that Nehemiah constantly gave God the credit. Establishing integrity and winning the confidence of people is essential in successful leadership.

Favourable response of the people: The call to action (Neh 2:18)

Having received Nehemiah’s vision, the people responded by saying, “Let us rise up and build!” They strengthened themselves for the work. For that reason, they made the necessary preparations. They did not just talk about what needed to be done. They immediately proceeded to do what was needed to accomplish the job. They moved from talking to action. This positive attitude is what is needed today in building God’s Church and God’s Kingdom.

Worthy of note here is that many people are willing to do something for God if they have good leaders to challenge them. The world and God’s churches need dedicated leadership for transformation. In Nehemiah’s time, the wall had been broken for so many years. Yet they had no leader to motivate them to work till Nehemiah came to the scene.


Having a dream of a better future is one thing. Sharing the dream with others to own it and getting them involved is another thing. In Neh 2:11-18, Nehemiah describes how he took the necessary steps in sharing his vision and motivating others to get involved. It is important to observe that meaningful communication is an essential step in bringing about the transformation of our communities. Share the dream and be willing to get others involved. The positive response of the people has a lot to tell us. The goal should be towards joining the vision and the task of building God’s Kingdom without being concerned about who gets the credit. God’s name would be glorified at the end of the project. Let us, therefore, arise and build, for there is more to be done in God’s Kingdom. The call to action is now.

Reading Nehemiah 2:1-12 from the perspective of Emotional Intelligence, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu


This study focuses on reading Nehemiah 2:1-10 from the perspective of emotional intelligence. It applies the essential elements of emotional intelligence in understanding how Nehemiah related with the King, made requests and thus obtained permission and other resources to embark on his vision of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. To do that, the meaning of emotional intelligence is first looked at.

Understanding emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) has to do with the ability to recognize, understand and manage one’s own emotions for personal development. Emotional Intelligence has the other objective of recognizing, perceiving and influencing the emotions of others for meaning impacts.

Studying Emotional Intelligence brings to light the knowledge that emotions can influence our behaviour and impact people either positively or negatively. It thus brings out the dynamics of learning how to manage our emotions and that of others. Managing emotions is especially important in all aspects of personal and interpersonal relationships at our workplaces, in the context of our marriages and family relationships. Most importantly, it helps us to get along with people in the Church which is the household of God.

As a psychological term, Emotional Intelligence is built on the foundation that emotional conditions determine thoughts. The condition of our emotions affects how our brain functions thereby affecting how we make decisions and relate with others. In this light developing our emotional intelligence is needed for the success of both our personal and professional lives. On the one hand, Emotional Intelligence equips us to engage in sensitive conversations without hurting feelings. It also strengthens us in managing our emotions when we are stressed up and thus feel overwhelmed. In other words, by studying about our own Emotional Intelligence, our relationships with others could be improved.

Applying Emotional Intelligence elements to read Neh 2:1-10

By applying the perspective of Emotional Intelligence to read Nehemiah 2:1-10, the basic elements of Emotional Intelligence which are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills will be used. Self-conscious people are aware of their feelings and motives and how their emotions affect themselves and others. Self-regulation has to do with controlling oneself in order not to make impulsive decisions. In this light, one thinks about the consequences of an action before making decisions. The component of motivation relates to purpose and productivity. What this means is that an emotionally intelligent person has the benefit of having the big picture (purpose) in mind and how one’s actions contribute to the success of that goal. Empathy is meant emotionally intelligent people empathize with others and their situations. Here, that person tends to be a good listener, slow to judge, and understands the needs and wants of others. From this perspective, an emotionally intelligent person is often regarded as a loyal and compassionate friend.

Regarding social skills, the emotionally intelligent person can collaborate with others and to work in teams. That person tends to possess strong communication skills and ability and so tends to be a very good leader.

In reading Nehemiah 2:1-10, we will therefore discuss how these elements apply to the roles played by the characters: Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes and Sanballat and Tobiah.

Self-awareness – showing emotions in the face (Neh 2:1-3)

In exercising his official duties as a Cupbearer as pointed out in Nehemiah 1:11, Nehemiah presents himself as serving wine to the king. Worthy of note is the fact that “wine” in the Bible does not always mean fermented or intoxicating wine as the term generally suggests today (Isaiah 16:10; 65:8; Jeremiah 48:33).

Normally, Nehemiah appeared to be a happy person. For he writes that he had not been sad or sorrowful in disposition when he was in the presence of the king. However, being cheerful and full of smiles is not always possible. For burdens sometimes weigh the hearts down, steal the facial glory and saddens the spirit. On this occasion, Nehemiah appeared to be sad, and the king noticed it and asked about the cause. When asked his sadness, Nehemiah admitted and explained his heart burdens.

Nehemiah also admitted his great fear. Serving God is not always easy. Sometimes, there are emotional challenges. To begin, Nehemiah had great sorrow when he heard of the troubles in Jerusalem. Here, he had great fear before the king. It is important to state that those who please God are those who manage their emotional fears and griefs. Nehemiah had every reason to be afraid. First, he was about to make a request of the powerful human king at the time. Second, it was probable that the King could become angry and so punish Nehemiah. Last, Nehemiah had every reason to be afraid because it was improper for a cupbearer and other servants to allow their personal lives to affect their service and demeanour before the king.

Empathy- Perceiving the emotional state of others and seeking for ways to help them

King Artaxerxes knew Nehemiah was not physically ill. He therefore concluded that it was sorrow of heart. The king perceived the condition of Nehemiah’s heart (Proverbs 15:13). The king was indeed a perceptive and wise king.  After receiving the answer, he went further to look for a possible way he could help Nehemiah by asking what Nehemiah wanted. Most appropriately the king asked for specifics in that he wanted to know how long the trip would take.

Self-regulations – Nehemiah managed his fear and grief through contemplative prayer

Managing our emotions by facing our emotional fears and grief thereby conquering them to do God’s will despite hardships pleases God. In managing his fears, Nehemiah appealed to the invisible higher authority who is God. Paul entreats the Philippians to cast all their cares onto God.

Motivation – Nehemiah explained his reasons for his deamenour and made requests

When asked about his demeanour, Nehemiah explained that it was reasonable for him to be troubled considering the problems in his homeland. For the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. This is the city where his father had lived and been buried. Motivated by his vision, Nehemiah asked the king for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city.

Social Skills – Nehemiah respected authorities

In his response, Nehemiah first expressed great respect for the king. He said, “Let the king live forever!” In modern times, that would be, “Long live the king!” This was a common way of praising the king. It demonstrated how people valued the king and wished that his service continues (1 Kings 1:31; Daniel 2:4; 5:10; 6:6,21).  Social skills teach one to speak respectfully to people in positions of power, especially when we have a great request to make of them. It also has to do with humility towards one another and that of developing team skills.


Contrary to the emotions exhibited by Sanballat and Tobiah in Nehemiah 2:10, King Artaxerxes was happy to grant Nehemiah’s request. When people are emotionally intelligent, they empathise with others in their needs. In this case, the king was favourable and granted all Nehemiah’s requests. Nehemiah gave thanks to God for this favourable result. He had repeatedly made request of God for these blessings, so it was only right that he then give God credit when the blessings were granted. We should remember this too in our prayers to God.

Praying through the content of Nehemiah’s model prayer (Nehemiah 1:5-11), by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu


Nehemiah 1:5-11 summarises Nehemiah’s prayer after he heard of the distress of the Jews in Jerusalem. In this case, Nehemiah’s prayer contains praise, confession of sins, an affirmation of God’s promises and petition. It is important to state that a prayer that aims at transformation should be fashioned along this line. The content of Nehemiah’s prayer serves as a prayer model for contemporary Christians.

Nehemiah praised God (Ne 1:5)

Nehemiah adored God as the God of heaven who is great and awesome. He addressed God as the one who keeps the covenant of love with those who love God and obey God’s promises. Indeed, the God that Nehemiah prayed to is the one true God, who is the ruler of heaven and earth. In prayer, we ought to remind ourselves that God deserves our worship and praise. Acknowledging the greatness and awesomeness of God should therefore be our foremost priority whenever we come to God in prayer. This model implies that our prayers should not just be in the form of making requests before God. Praising God is always appropriate before we ask something from God.

Nehemiah confessed sins (Ne 1:7)

The second element of Nehemiah’s prayer was the confession of sins, not just his own sins but also, that of the sins of his people, Israel. For this motive, Nehemiah repeatedly used the plural personal pronoun “we.” This effort implies that Nehemiah was not only concerned about his sins, but he identified himself in the corporate sinfulness of his people.  For the corporate sins required corporate confession.

In this regard, Nehemiah confessed and acknowledged his own sins in addition to the sins of his family and the people of Israel. He openly admitted their corrupt conduct toward God. To him, they had not kept God’s commands, statutes, and ordinances as given through Moses. Although Christians are not under law but grace, yet we are called upon to confess when we sin (1 John 1:9).

Nehemiah recalled God’s promises (Neh 1:8-10)

Having prayed for forgiveness of sins, Nehemiah recalled God’s promises to return the people of Israel from captivity. God had told Israel that God would disperse them among the nations should they become unfaithful. However, if they repent and keep God’s promises, they would be brought back to their promised nation (Deuteronomy 4:25-31). To Nehemiah, his people had been unfaithful and as such were scattered. Nehemiah was hereby urging God to keep the second part of the promise, namely, to return the people when they repented and bless them again in the land.

Learning from this model of prayer, therefore, Christians are called upon to claim God’s promises in prayer. In prayers, we are to trust God to fulfil God’s holistic promises which are for our spiritual, social, material and emotional wellbeing. Most importantly, Christians are enjoined to know Scripture and pray according to Scripture.

Nehemiah petitioned God (Neh 1:11)

Nehemiah’s prayer concludes by asking God for help.  Some Christians begin their prayers here instead of first adoring God, confessing our sins and reminding God of God’s promises. From the perspective of Nehemiah, therefore, an adoration should precede supplication. In this model prayer, Nehemiah was not requesting on his own behalf.

It is important to pray for ourselves and the things that we need. However, remembering to pray for the needs of others especially God’s people should form an essential part of our prayer life. Nehemiah pointed out that he prayed specifically for favour before the king. He wanted God to bless and prosper him in his attempt to request something from the king. Among others, therefore, as Nehemiah did, we are to pray to God for the things that are profoundly important in life, especially for God’s blessings of our work for God. We are to pray for God’s strength, prosperity and blessings in our lives.

Conclusion and application

The content of Nehemiah’s prayer which involves adoration, confession, scriptural promises, and petitioning God should serve as our model prayer. Effective prayer for the total transformation of our lives and communities should contain these elements. It is important to remind ourselves that these elements could be related to the content of the Lord’s prayer as thought by our Lord Jesus Christ in Mathew 6:9-13. In analysing the Lord’s prayer, it is clear, the Lord Jesus taught us to adore God and thus hallow God’s name, confess our sins, affirm scripture and petitioned God who is addressed as our father in heaven. In this light, a Christian has prayed well if he has prayed through these models.