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Purpose of The Book of 1 Corinthians:
The Corinthians did not like Paul at all and challenged his authority and desired “more than” the gospel. Paul is responding to this desire for “more than” the gospel. "First" Corinthians was actually the second letter that Paul had written to the Church at Corinth (5:9). The first, as best we can tell, was badly misunderstood by the Corinthians. Therefore, Paul wrote them another letter clarifying his previous letter. He had received reports from friends (1:11) who had been in Corinth, including questions they had and problems they were experiencing. This letter is Paul's response to those questions (see chapters 7 and 8). Paul, with this letter, was trying to help encourage and lead a church that was going astray.
Summary of The Book of 1 Corinthians:
The letter was probably written circa A.D. 54-56 from Ephesus during Paul’s third missionary journey. Paul wrote to the church in the city of Corinth, the capital city of the Roman province Achaia. Paul had planted this church during his second missionary journey only a few years earlier. The original audience in Corinth contained members from all levels of society, but consisted mostly of people who were neither rich, wise, nor of noble birth. The original audience had sat under the ministry of Paul, Apollos, and Peter. Subsequent to the ministries of Paul, Apollos, and Peter, the Corinthian church had begun to place improper value on worldly wisdom, including Greek philosophy. Paul wrote the letter largely to discuss the problems he saw in the Corinthian church, although he also included praise for certain things the church was doing well.
Author and Dates of The Book of 1 Corinthians:
The apostle Paul wrote this letter. He was not one of the original twelve and was formerly named Saul (Acts 13:9). Paul had formerly been a zealous Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Phil. 3:5) and persecuted the church (Acts 8:3; 9:1-2; 22:3-4; 26:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:14,23; Phil. 3:5). He was converted and appointed to his apostleship by direct encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-19; 22:6-16; 26:12-18). Paul was one of the church’s earliest missionaries, and was especially commissioned to evangelize the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 15:12; 18:6; 22:21; Gal. 2:9). He planted churches all over the Mediterranean world and authored more New Testament books than any other writer: Romans; 1 & 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon.Paul started the church at Corinth in the latter part of 49 AD, ministering there for 18 months before he continued on his missionary journeys. Other apostles visited Corinth and ministered to the saints there, and the Corinthians began to appreciate these men more than Paul, their absent founder. Therefore Paul began communicating to them through letters toward the end of his ministry in Ephesus, probably in early 55 AD.
Corinth was a very large and wealthy port city throughout its history, being located very strategically in the area that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. However, it was destroyed by Rome in 146 BC and not rebuilt until 29 BC. It quickly regained its wealth and popularity, but with a completely new class of people. The city was so infamous for its sexual impropriety that "to Corinthianize" became the slang for having sex. In the letter, it is obvious that some of this kind of behavior crept into the church.
Outline of The Book of 1 Corinthians:
Themes of The Book of 1 Corinthians:
Freedom from Sin: The Corinthian Church rationalized their own sinfulness by presuming upon God's grace and pridefully assuming God's favor. Paul, conversely, tells them that God has freed his people from slavery to sin so that they might be free from its destruction and free to love others rather than self.
Unity and Peace: The Corinthian church had split itself through factions and arguments. Different groups claimed different church leaders, and brothers litigated against brother in the Roman court system. Paul chastises the Corinthians for their selfishness and pride, which was jeopardizing the unity of Christ's body and Christ's testimony to the world (chapters 1, 3, 7, 11).