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1 Corinthians

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Introduction to 1 Corinthians

AUTHOR: PAUL, the apostle (1Cr 1:1; 16:21)

PLACE OF WRITING: EPHESUS (1Cr 16:8)

TIME OF WRITING: Probably in the spring of 57 A.D., shortly before the Jewish feast of Pentecost (1Cr 16:8), during his third missionary journey (Ac 19:1-41).

BACKGROUND OF THE CITY OF CORINTH: Corinth was situated on the Isthmus of Greece (called Achaia in the Bible) between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea, above the Mediterranean Sea. About 50 miles to the east was the city of Athens.

The Corinth of Paul's day was relatively new. The old Corinth (which was famous and powerful in the days of the Peloponnesian War) was burned in 146 B.C. by the Roman proconsul, L. Mummius. Because it was a city devoted to the gods, a hundred years were required to pass before the city could be rebuilt. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt the city, populated it with a colony of veterans and freedmen, and named it Julia Corinthus. It soon became a very important commercial center.

With a population of 400,000 and being a prominent center of commerce in the Mediterranean world, it was a place for all sorts of vice. An example of its immorality was found in the temple of Venus (Aphrodite), which hosted 1000 priestesses dedicated to prostitution in the name of religion. The city's close proximity to the city of Athens probably added the problem of intellectualism. As noticed in the epistle, such an environment had its effect upon the church in Corinth. It is amazing that a church existed at all in such a city.

BACKGROUND OF THE CHURCH AT CORINTH: The establishment of the church occurred during Paul's second missionary journey. It is recorded by Luke in Ac 18:1-18, which can be divided into three sections:

  1. Abiding with Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tentmakers; reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath (Ac 18:1-6).
  2. In the house of Justus, abiding there and teaching for a year and six months (Ac 18:7-11)
  3. An incident before Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (Ac 18:12-18)

It appears from reading the epistle that the church was adversely affected by the immoral environment found in the city. Pride caused division in the church and disruption in the services (1Cr 1-4, 11). Immorality and immodesty found its way into the church, which gave it a bad reputation (1Cr 5). The brethren were taking their personal problems with each other before the heathen courts instead of working them out among themselves (1Cr 6). Other issues affecting the church included questions about marriage (1Cr 7), meats sacrificed to idols (1Cr 8-10), women praying and prophesying with heads uncovered (1Cr 11), the use of spiritual gifts (1Cr 12-14), the resurrection from the dead (1Cr 15), and the collection for the saints in Jerusalem (1Cr 16). Thus the church was one beset with problems and questions that needed to be answered.

PURPOSE OF WRITING: The bad news concerning the problems at Corinth had reached Paul in Ephesus. It seems that this news came from at least two sources: 1) the household of Chloe (1Cr 1:11); and 2) a letter sent to him (1Cr 7:1), possibly by the hands of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1Cr 16:17).

Therefore, in answer to these reports Paul writes:

TO CORRECT SINFUL PRACTICES AND REFUTE FALSE DOCTRINE

THEME: 1 Corinthians 1:10

"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Brief Outline

(adapted from Dextor Sammons)

INTRODUCTION (1Cr 1:1-9)

  1. PROBLEMS REPORTED BY THE HOUSE OF CHLOE (1Cr 1:10-6:20)
    1. FACTIONS IN THE CHURCH (1Cr 1:1-4:21)
    2. SEXUAL IMMORALITY (1Cr 5:1-13)
    3. LAWSUITS AMONG BRETHREN (1Cr 6:1-11)
    4. MORAL DEFILEMENTS (1Cr 6:12-20)
  2. PROBLEMS MENTIONED IN THE LETTER FROM CORINTH (1Cr 7:1-16:9)
    1. MARRIAGE & CELIBACY (1Cr 7:1-40)
    2. EATING MEATS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS (1Cr 8:1-11:1)
    3. WOMEN PRAYING AND PROPHESYING WITH HEADS UNCOVERED (1Cr 11:2-16)
    4. THE LORD'S SUPPER (1Cr 11:17-34)
    5. SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1Cr 12:1-14:40)
    6. RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD (1Cr 15:1-58)
    7. COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS (1Cr 16:1-4)

CONCLUDING REMARKS, INSTRUCTIONS, AND BENEDICTION (1Cr 16:5-24)

Review Questions for the Introduction
  1. On which journey did the apostle Paul establish the church in Corinth?
    • His second journey
  2. Where do we read of the establishment of the Corinthian church?
  3. What two people did Paul first stay with in Corinth? What did they have in common? (Ac 18:1-3)
    • Aquila and Priscilla
    • Tentmakers by trade
  4. Which chief ruler of the synagogue was converted? (Ac 18:8)
    • Crispus
  5. Approximately how long did Paul stay in Corinth? (Ac 18:11)
    • A year and six months
  6. Who did Aquila and Priscilla convert in Ephesus who later went to Corinth? (Ac 18:28-19:1)
    • Apollos
  7. From where did Paul write this first epistle to Corinth? (1Cr 16:8)
    • Ephesus
  8. What is the approximate date of writing?
    • The spring of 57 A.D.
  9. What two things existed in Corinth that appeared to have an adverse effect on the church?
    • Intellectualism
    • Immorality
  10. What is the purpose of this epistle?
    • To correct sinful practices and refute false doctrine
  11. Where is the theme of the epistle stated?
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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