As follows is simply an excerpt from my syllabus on 1 Corinthians, taught by Dr. Ian Scott. In it remains a pertinent reminder about the 1st Century Church to those who would say we need to go back and replicate nearly everything they did (their structures, their practices, their habits, their ideals, their governance).
Although we sometimes idealize the first-century church, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians reveals a community in chaos. This course examines the various problems in the Corinthian church and how Paul tried to address those issues, all in the context of the first-century world. Along the way we will ask how Paul’s treatment of factionalism, sexuality and marriage, communion, charismatic gifts, and other issues can help us to navigate life and leadership today.
The early churches were models in many ways, but were in no way perfect either. Consider Clement’s letter forty-five years later to Corinth (Linked Here), where he says that after Paul wrote to them, their church got better, but now their children and grandchildren are falling into their own patterns of sin.
Each generation has to adapt to the present context and live for the Lord, structure its society in new, different ways. Sometimes that is by reverting to the ways of previous generations. Other times, that means avoiding the previous generations faults.