"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Introduction AUTHOR: PAUL, the Apostle (1:1; 16:21) PLACE OF WRITING: EPHESUS (16:8) TIME OF WRITING: Probably in the spring of A.D. 57, shortly before the Jewish feast of Pentecost (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 affect 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 (1 Co 1-4). Immorality and immodesty found its way into the church, which gave it a bad reputation (1 Co 5). The brethren were taking their personal problems with each other before the heathen courts instead of working them out among themselves (1 Co 6). Other issues affecting the church included questions about marriage (1 Co 7), meats sacrificed to idols (1 Co 8-10), women praying and prophesying with heads uncovered (1 Co 11), the use of spiritual gifts (1 Co 12-14), the resurrection from the dead (1 Co 15), and the collection for the saints in Jerusalem (1 Co 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 (1:11); 2) a letter sent to him (7:1), possibly by the hands of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (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 INTRODUCTION (1:1-9) I. PROBLEMS REPORTED BY THE HOUSE OF CHLOE (1:10-6:20) A. FACTIONS IN THE CHURCH (1:1-4:21) B. SEXUAL IMMORALITY (5:1-13) C. LAWSUITS AMONG BRETHREN (6:1-11) D. MORAL DEFILEMENTS (6:12-20) II. PROBLEMS MENTIONED IN THE LETTER FROM CORINTH (7:1-16:4) A. MARRIAGE & CELIBACY (7:1-40) B. EATING MEATS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS (8:1-11:1) C. WOMEN PRAYING AND PROPHESYING WITH HEADS UNCOVERED (11:2-16) D. THE LORD'S SUPPER (11:17-34) E. SPIRITUAL GIFTS (12:1-14:40) F. RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD (15:1-58) G. COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS (16:1-4) CONCLUDING REMARKS, INSTRUCTIONS, AND BENEDICTION (16:5-24)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION Move your mouse pointer underneath each question to see the answer.
1) On which journey did the Apostle Paul establish the church in Corinth? 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) 4) Which chief ruler of the synagogue was converted? (Ac 18:8) 5) Approximately how long did Paul stay in Corinth? (Ac 18:11) 6) Who did Aquila and Priscilla convert in Ephesus who later went to Corinth? (Ac 18:24-19:1) 7) From where did Paul write this first epistle to Corinth? (16:8) 8) What is the approximate date of writing? 9) What two things existed in Corinth that appeared to have an adverse affect on the church? 10) What is the purpose of this epistle? 11) Where is the theme of the epistle stated?