DATE: 55 A.D.
Corinth was a port city, a wealthy commercial center, located on the narrow isthmus between the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. The city’s outdoor theater could host 20,000 people and held athletic games that were second only to the Olympics. The city’s population was Greek, Roman, and Oriental. The temple of Aphrodite with its 1,000 prostitutes, was in Corinth. The people of Corinth were very immoral and the Greek term Korinthiazomai, which is translated “to act the Corinthian,” came to mean “to practice fornication.” Corinth was noted for everything sinful.
On his second missionary journey (A.D. 50), while living and working with Aquila and Priscilla, Paul preached the gospel in the Corinthian synagogue. When opposition forced arose, he was forced to move to the house of Titius Justus. The Jews accused Paul before the Roman governor Gallio, but the charge was dismissed, and Paul remained in Corinth for 18 months (Acts 18:1-17; 1 Cor. 2:3). After leaving, Paul wrote his first letter to the church, which has been lost (1 Cor 5:9). The Corinthians responded by letter and so continuing to hear disturbing news and to answer questions raised by the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:1), Paul wrote another letter, which God has preserved as 1 Corinthians. The problems at Corinth were many, including divisions in the church (1 Cor 1:11) and immorality (1 Cor 5; 6:9-20). The people also had many questions concerning marriage, food, worship, and the resurrection.
Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus (1 Cor 16:8) to address their grievous sins, their spiritual and moral weaknesses, and their lack of knowledge and understanding of God. First Corinthians is said to be a casebook of pastoral theology. Paul clearly teaches of the judgment seat of Christ (3:11-15), the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20), the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23-34), love as God intends (1 Cor 13), the exercise of gifts (1 Cor 12-14), and resurrection (1 Cor 15).
Key Verse: 1 Cor 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
OUTLINE OF 1 Corinthians
I. Introduction, 1:1-9
A. The Salutation, 1:1-3
B. The Expression of Thanks, 1:4-9
II. Divisions in the Church, 1:10-4:21
A. The Fact of Divisions, 1:10-17
B. The Causes of Divisions, 1:18-2:16
1. The misunderstanding of God’s message of the cross, 1:18-2:5
2. The misunderstanding of the Spirit’s ministry of revealing, 2:6-16
C. The Consequences of Divisions, 3:1-4:5
1. Spiritual growth is stunted, 3:1-9
2. Rewards will be lost, 3:10-4:5
D. The Example of Paul, 4:6-21
III. Moral Disorders in the Church, 5:1-6:20
A. The Case of Incest, 5:1-13
1. The problem stated, 5:1-2
2. The punishment prescribed, 5:3-13
B. The Problem of Litigation in Heathen Courts, 6:1-8
C. The Warning Against Moral Laxity, 6:9-20
IV. Discussion Concerning Marriage, 7:1-40
A. Marriage and Celibacy, 7:1-9
B. Marriage and Divorce, 7:10-24
C. Marriage and Christian Service, 7:25-38
D. Marriage and Remarriage, 7:39-40
V. Discussion Concerning Food Offered to Idols, 8:1-11:1
A. Enquiry: May a Christian Eat Food Consecrated to a Pagan God? 8:1-13
B. Example of Paul, 9:1-27
1. Paul’s rights, 9:1-14
2. Paul’s restrictions, 9:15-27
C. Exhortations, 10:1-11:1
1. Avoid self-indulgence, 10:1-13
2. Do not participate in idol feasts, 10:14-22
3. Glorify God by seeking the welfare of your brother, 10:23-11:1
A. The Veiling of Women, 11:2-16
B. The Lord’s Supper, 11:17-34
C. The Use of Spiritual Gifts, 12:1-14:40
1. The varieties of gifts, 12:1-11
2. The purpose of gifts: unity in diversity, 12:12-31
3. The supremacy of love over gifts, 13:1-13
4. The superiority of prophecy over tongues, 14:1-25
5. The regulations for the use of gifts, 14:26-40
VII. The Doctrine of the Resurrection, 15:1-58
A. The Importance of the Resurrection, 15:1-11
B. The Consequences of Denying the Resurrection, 15:12-19
C. The Christian Hope, 15:20-34
D. The Resurrection Body, 15:35-50
E. The Christian’s Victory Through Christ, 15:51-58
VIII. Practical and Personal Matters, 16:1-24
A. The Collection for the Saints in Jerusalem, 16:1-4
B. The Planned Visit of Paul, 16:5-9
C. Exhortations, Greetings, and Benediction, 16:10-24
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