Wednesday, 10 December 2008

1st Corinthians - An Introduction

The next few post will be a study of the book of 1st Corinthians.  Check back regularly and follow as we study Paul's wonderful letter.


Paul established the church at Corinth in A.D. 52 on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 18). Paul travelled from Athens a short distance of about 80 km and found a city far more receptive to the gospel. He met a Jewish couple there, Aquila and Priscilla, who had recently arrived from Rome following the persecution of Jews in that city (Acts 18:2). He stayed in their house and worked with them to support himself as he preached the gospel. This couple later became very important co-workers with Paul (Acts 18:18, 26; Rom 16:3; 1Cor 16:19; 2Tim 4:19).

As was Paul’s custom, he initially went to the Jewish synagogue and preached Christ there. When they resisted the truth and even blasphemed in an effort to deny the truth, Paul left them and started meeting in the home of Titus Justus, who lived next door to the synagogue (Acts 18:4-7). Many of the Jews left with Paul and we see the start of one of the great churches of the New Testament. By this time, Paul was joined by Silas and Timothy who came from Thessalonica (1 Thess 3:1-6). They brought financial support from the church in Philippi (Phil. 4:14-15) so Paul could dedicate himself fulltime to the preaching of the gospel. Paul remained in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching the word of God to them.

The city of Corinth was the capital of Achaia. Because of its position on an isthmus, Corinth was served by two harbours, Cenchreae and Lechaeum. This made the city a major trading centre and brought in people from all over the world. I also helped to gain Corinth the reputation of being a city filled with depravity. To “Corinthianize” came to mean to have intercourse with a prostitute. The temple of Aphrodite was said to house one thousand temple prostitutes. Understanding some of the character of the city helps in understanding the letters the apostle wrote to the church in that city.

It is unlikely that there was one church in Corinth, rather the church was made up of smaller congregations meeting in private homes (i.e. “Chloe’s people” Chapter 1:12, “the household of Stephanas” Chapter 16:15). There were numerous problems that Paul dealt with throughout the letter. Chapters one through to Chapter six appear to be Paul dealing with problems he had heard of. Chapter seven starts off, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote”, and appears to be answering a letter the apostle received.
Following is a brief outline of the letter.

Chapter One
• Introduction
• Warnings about division
• The wisdom of God

Chapter Two
• Preaching the crucified Christ
• True wisdom

Chapter Three
• Divisions
• God’s building

Chapter Four
• God’s stewards
• Paul’s example

Chapter Five
• Dealing with immorality
• Christian association

Chapter Six
• Lawsuits between brethren
• Warnings on immorality

Chapter Seven
• Dealing with marriage

Chapter Eight
• Use of liberties
- Things sacrificed to idols
- Paul’s use of liberties

Chapter Nine
• Paul defends his apostleship
- Worker’s right to be supported
• Practicing self-control

Chapter Ten
• Danger of self-confidence
• The Lord’s table vs. table of demons

Chapter Eleven
• Headship and the sign of Authority
• The Lord’s Supper

Chapter Twelve
• Spiritual Gifts
• Members of the body

Chapter Thirteen
• The excellence of love
• The permanence of love

Chapter Fourteen
• Superiority of the gift of prophecy
• Rules for worship service

Chapter Fifteen
• The resurrection
- The facts around Christ’s resurrection
- Application to us

Chapter Sixteen
• The collection
• Paul’s closing words

1 comment:

Mulled Vine said...

I like it. Concise and informative. I look forward to the series.