New Testament Lesson 34 (1 Corinthians 11–16)


Teachings on Marriage

1 Corinthians 7 Many misunderstand Paul’s teachings because of mistranslation and misinterpretation, taking statements in this chapter out of context. All scriptures—taken together and in context—endorse marriage.

— Paul is responding to questions asked in previous correspondence (1 Cor. 7:1; 8:1).
— This verse (v. 1) says, “Now to deal with the questions you wrote about—Is it good for a man to stay away from women?” (footnotes 1a, 2a).

1 Cor. 7:1–5 General counsel on marriage and sexual conduct therein.

1 Cor. 7:6–9 He advises unmarried and widowed missionaries to remain single while serving.

— Paul was clearly not married as he wrote this (vv. 7–8). But it is possible that Paul, was a widower. His heart was thoroughly set on missionary work, and thus he might have chosen not to remarry.

— President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Taking such statements in conjunction with others [Paul] made it is clear that he is not talking about celibacy, but is urging the normal and controlled sex [while] living in marriage and total continence outside marriage. There is no real evidence that Paul was never married, as some students claim, and there are in fact indications to the contrary.”1

1 Cor. 9:5 Paul argues that Apostles have as much right to marry as anyone else.

1 Cor. 11:11–12 “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”

1 Cor. 7:10–19 Paul’s advice on special circumstances in marriages.

— In a troubled marriage, partners should try to persevere and work it out (v. 10).
— In part-member families, a nonmember should not be divorced if he or she refuses to convert (v. 12).
— If the spouse refuses to live with a Church member, the Church member is forced to choose the Lord (v. 15).

1 Cor. 7:25–40 Advice on marriage to those involved in missionary service

— “The present distress” would be translated better as “the present necessity,” which is the need for missionaries (v. 26).

— “The time is short” means that the Church needs missionaries—the Great Apostasy is imminent (vv. 29–38) (see JST corrections).

— “Be careful for nothing” means “Have no anxiety about anything” (v. 32). Worries should distract missionaries from their work.

— A man’s “virgin” means his fiancee. The phrase “pass the flower of her age” means she feels she is getting old (v. 36).

— It is better (for the “present necessity”) to be a missionary; if not, get married, for that is acceptable (v. 38) (see JST corrections).

Gender Roles

1 Cor. 11:3 Everyone is accountable to somebody else; even Christ to the Father. A woman’s head is the husband (see also Ephesians 5:22–33).

1 Cor. 11:4–10 Cultural practices of the day concerning proper worship; the point is that we should not behave unseemly or draw attention to ourselves.

— Note that Paul acknowledges that women both pray and prophesy (v. 5).

1 Cor. 11:11 Men and women cannot be with the Lord eternally without each other.

— President Joseph F. Smith said, “The house of the Lord is a house of order and not . . . of confusion; and that means that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach the perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God alone . . . God instituted marriage in the beginning. He made man in his own image and likeness, male and female, and in their creation it was designed that they should be united together in sacred bonds of marriage, and one is not perfect without the other. Furthermore, it means that there is no union for time and eternity that can be perfected outside of the law of God, and the order of his house. Men may desire it, they may go through the form of it, in this life, but it will be of no effect except it be done and sanctioned by divine authority. . . .”2

1 Cor. 11:14–15 Grooming: It was the custom then for women to have long hair which they kept covered in public. It was considered immodest not to do so. But for men, long hair was considered shameful.

1 Cor. 14:34–35 Joseph Smith changed the word “speak” to “rule” (see JST).

— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “May women speak in Church? Yes, in the sense of teaching, counseling, testifying, exhorting, and the like; no, in the sense of assuming rule over the Church as such, and in attempting to give direction as to how God’s affairs on earth shall be regulated . . . Paul is here telling the sisters they are subject to the priesthood, that it is not their province to rule and reign, that the bishop’s wife is not the bishop.”3


The Diversity of Gifts

1 Corinthians 12 Paul sought to eliminate the Corinthians’ contentions about the importance of various spiritual gifts. His goal was unity among them, which he illustrated by comparing them to the members of the body, all of which are important and interdependent.

1 Cor. 12:1–3 The Prophet Joseph Smith said that 1 Cor. 12:3 should be translated “no man can know that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 223)..

1 Cor. 12: 4–11 Spiritual gifts are “given to every man to profit withal.”
— 10 gifts are listed by Paul.
— 9 gifts are listed by Moroni (Moroni 10:8–18).
— 14 gifts are listed by the Lord (D&C 46:8–33).

● Other gifts are identified elsewhere in the scriptures:
— Discernment (Alma 11:21–25).
— Faith ( 1 Nephi 3:7).
— Teaching ( Acts 2:14–41).
— Knowledge ( D&C 76:5–13).

1 Cor. 12:12–26 The Church has need of all members and their gifts.

— President Heber J. Grant said, “I rejoice . . . that every Latter-day Saint, every humble son and daughter of God that has embraced the Gospel and become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has received the witness of the Holy Spirit, that the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy, of healing, and other gifts and blessings, are found in the Church, and are not confined to men that hold responsible positions in the Church.”4

1 Cor. 12:27–31; D&C 46:8–9 We should seek after spiritual gifts earnestly, at the same time remembering why they are given—so that all members may be benefitted.

How Gifts Are Obtained and Used

D&C 46:11 The Spirit of God gives every individual a gift.

D&C 46:7–8 What we must do to obtain these gifts without being deceived.

D&C 46:9 The purpose for which we should seek these gifts.

D&C 11:10 How we may obtain our gifts.

D&C 130:20–21 What must a person do before he may acquire any gifts of the Spirit?

D&C 50:26–28 How a person may acquire and use these spiritual gifts.

Moroni 10:24 The primary cause of losing these gifts

The Gift of Tongues

1 Cor. 14:1–12 Paul’s teachings on the gifts of tongues and of prophecy.

● The Prophet Joseph Smith said about the gift of tongues:

— The devil can speak in tongues.5
— Its purpose is to teach unbelievers.6
— Don’t be too curious about it.7
— Don’t indulge in it too much.8
— Not everything taught by the gift of tongues is doctrine.9

1 Cor. 14:21–22 The gift of tongues can be of some benefit to unbelievers, because it is dramatic, but the gift of prophecy is of more benefit to believers because it communicates the mind and will of the Lord.

1 Cor. 14:26 If the gift of tongues causes someone to “lose control,” it is not of God.


1 Cor. 12:31 Charity is “a more excellent way.”

Moroni 7:47–48 Charity is the pure love of Christ.

1 Cor. 13:1–13 Paul’s teachings on charity. The pure love of Christ does not . . .

— Envy (v. 4).
— Vaunt (or exalt) itself—“vaunt” is translated from the Greek for “braggart” (v. 4).
— Have puffed up or inflated ideas of its own worth (v. 4).
— Behave itself unseemly (v. 5).
— Seek its own ends (v. 5).
— Provoke easily—“easily provoked” is translated from the Greek for “irritable” (v. 5).
— Think evil—“think” would be better translated as “reckons” or “takes notice of” (v. 5).
— Rejoice in iniquity (v. 6).

— Beareth comes from the word meaning “to cover” and is used of roofs and the hull of ships—keeping out resentment as the roof does the rain (v. 7).

— The word translated faileth really means “to fall off” as applied to leaves or flowers (v. 8). In other words, love is not removed from its place.

— The word translated “glass” is actually “mirror” (v. 12). To those of us accustomed to the high quality mirrors of today, Paul’s imagery is not clear. “The ancient mirror . . . was of polished metal, and required constant polishing, so that a sponge with pounded pumice-stone was generally attached to it.”10

● The pure love of Christ does . . .

— Have preeminence among the spiritual qualities (vv. 1–3).
— Have patience (is long-suffering) (v. 4).
— Rejoice in the truth (v. 6).
— Bear all things (v. 7).
— Believe in all things (v. 7).
— Hope for all things (v. 7).
— Endure all things (v. 7).
— Persist without failing (v. 8).

1 Cor. 13:13 Faith and hope are predecessors to charity


1 Cor. 15:1–8 An important listing of some appearances of Jesus after his resurrection.

— Christ’s death and resurrection are the heart of the gospel (vv. 1–3).
— Jesus appeared to his younger brother James after the resurrection (v. 7).

1 Cor. 15:12–32 The Sadducees denied the reality of the resurrection.

— Greek philosophy said the body was evil, and while there might be eternal life for the spirit, there certainly was none for the body.

— Paul’s response was that the doctrine of the resurrection is pivotal and all other truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ depend on it:

— If there’s no resurrection, why perform baptisms for the dead? (v. 29).

— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Every man that has been baptized and belongs to the kingdom has a right to be baptized for those who have gone before; and as soon as the law of the Gospel is obeyed here by their friends who act as proxy for them, the Lord has administrators there to set them free. A man may act as proxy for his own relatives; the ordinances of the Gospel which were laid out before the foundations of the world have thus been fulfilled by them. . .”11

1 Cor. 15:35–39 Planting a seed illustrates how God can create life from death (burial).

1 Cor. 15:40–42 There are different kinds of bodies in the resurrection (see also D&C 88:20–21, 28–31).

2 Cor. 12:2–4 Paul’s vision of the three degrees of glory.

1 Cor. 15:44–49 The nature of resurrected bodies.

— President Ezra Taft Benson said, “There is a separation of the spirit and the body at the time of death. The resurrection will again unite the spirit with the body, and the body becomes a spiritual body, one of flesh and bones but quickened by the spirit instead of blood. Thus, our bodies after the resurrection, quickened by the spirit, shall become immortal and never die. This is the meaning of the statements of Paul that ‘there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body and ‘that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.’ The natural body is flesh and blood, but quickened by the spirit instead of blood, it can and will enter the kingdom.”12

1 Cor. 15:50 “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.”

● The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

1. The life of the mortal body is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Joseph Smith taught that “when our flesh is quickened by the Spirit, there will be no blood in this tabernacle.”13

2. ”God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire.”14

3. ”Flesh and blood cannot go there [i.e., into God’s presence] ; but flesh and bones, quickened by the Spirit of God, can.”15

4. ”As concerning the resurrection. . . . all will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in their bodies, and not blood.”16

1 Cor. 15:50–52 Some will not die but be changed instantaneously from mortal to immortality.


1.  The Miracle of Forgiveness, 64.
2.  Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 272.
3.  Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 2:387–388.
4.  In Conference Report, April, 1901, 64.
5.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 162.
6.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 195.
7.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 247.
8.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 229.
9.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 229.
10. Vincent, Word Studies, 2:795–96.
11.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 367.
12.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1969, 138.
13.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 367.
14.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 367.
15.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 326.
16.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 199–200.