Content of this Introduction: (top)
Paul is identified within the text as the author of this epistle (1:1, 16:21), and few doubt this claim. (The fact that the author indicates that he was responding to the recipients' previous questions [e.g. 7:1] means that he was certainly known to them as the Apostle.)
Paul first preached to the Corinthians during his second missionary journey (Acts 18). He stayed with Priscilla and Aquilla, working as a tent maker and preaching in the synagogue to both Jews and Gentiles. He eventually left by ship (probably in the Spring of 51) for Jerusalem, where he didn't stay long, then returned to Antioch and then to Ephesus. There he stayed for two and a half years (probably autumn of 52 to spring of 55), and wrote many letters, 1 Corinthians among them (c.55 AD).
Reason for writing (top)
In Paul's time away, Apollos had worked at Corinth (1 Cor.3:6), and probably Peter did as well. For unknown reasons, the Corinthians had formed individual groups that claimed to follow this leader or that (“One of you says, 'I follow Paul;' another, 'I follow Apollos;' another, 'I follow Cephas;' still another, 'I follow Christ.'" [14:12]). The Church was further marred by: -
- At least one notorious case of immorality (5:1-5)
- Public disputes and quarrels among members (6:1-8)
- Uncertainties about the role and importance of marriage (ch.7)
- The propriety of food offered to idols (ch.8)
- Abuses at the Lord’s Table (11:17-34)
- An infatuation with individual gifts of the Holy Spirit, without a spirit of love and unity to share these (chs.12-14)
- A questionable view of the resurrection (ch.15)
As well as the pastoral counsel that Paul offers on these issues, the Corinthians had evidently written requesting his guidance on some aspects of the Christian life (7:1), all together forming the reason for Paul's composition of this letter.
- 1:1-3 Paul and Sosthenes, to the church in Corinth: Grace and peace to you.
- 1:4-9 I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.
- 1:10-17 I appeal to you brothers, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you.
- 1:18-31 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
- 2:1-16 When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom; we do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature.
- 3:1-4:21 Brothers, you are still worldly since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you. Boast about men no longer - it is on Christ that we should focus.
- 5:1-13 You must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.
- 6:1-11 If any of you has a dispute with another, why not let yourself be wronged for the sake of Christ rather than argue publicly to His shame?
- 6:12-20 Honour God with your body.
- 7:1-40 It is good for a believer to remain unmarried, but it is also good for a believer to marry. It is important to lead the life that God has assigned to you, and do this to the glory of God, remembering that time is short.
- 8:1-13 Be careful that your freedom which comes through knowledge does not harm your Christian brother by leading him to act against his conscience.
- 9:1-27 As an apostle, am I not entitled to certain rights? But instead my reward is preaching the gospel free of charge. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
- 10:1-13 You must not set your hearts on evil things. God is faithful: He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.
- 10:14-22 Flee from idolatry.
- 10:23-11:1 Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God making sure not to cause anyone else to stumble because of your actions.
- 11:2-16 You must exhibit all propriety in worship.
- 11:17-34 When participating in the Lord's Supper, do so in a worthy manner, remembering Christ.
- 12:1-11 To each, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
- 12:12-31a You are collectively the body of Christ, each being members of it, each serving different purposes; therefore you should have equal concern for all others.
- 12:31b-13:13 The most excellent way is love.
- 14:1-25 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
- 14:26-40 Be eager to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
- 15:1-58 Through knowledge of our future resurrection we see that death is swallowed up in victory.
- 16:1-4 Now, about the collection for God's people: set aside a sum of money each week so that when I come there does not have to be a collection taken up.
- 16:5-18 I hope to spend some good quality time with you, if the Lord permits; but in the meantime, stand firm in the faith.
- 16:19-24 The churches of Asia send you greetings, as do Priscilla and Aquila, the church that meets at their house, and all the brothers here, as do I. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.