|An Overview Of The Book Of 1 Corinthians|
The City Of Corinth
Corinth's existence goes back to very ancient times. The Greek poet Homer spoke of it in 1200 B.C. as wealthy Corinth. The Roman general Mummius completely destroyed the city in 146 B.C. to crush the Greek desires for an independent Greece. Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. dispatched a colony of Roman veterans and freemen to rebuild the city. A new Corinth arose from its ruins under Caesar Augustus, who rebuilt the city extensively in 27 B.C.
By A.D. 50 Corinth was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire. Its population has been estimated at around 250,000. Athens surpassed Corinth with its cultural attractions of fabulous architecture and sculpture. Corinth, on the other hand, surpassed Athens as the leading city of Greece and the capitol of the Roman province of Achaia in southern Greece.
Corinth was a bustling metropolis. It was wealthy and prosperous. Its importance and wealth were due to its strategic location on the narrow isthmus that connected the southern peninsula of Greece to its mainland and separated the Aegean Sea to the east from the Adriatic Sea to the west. Trade between Asia Minor (Turkey today) in the East and Rome and Italy in the West was funneled back and forth through Corinth on the narrow isthmus. Rather than risk the dangers of sailing through the storms and rough seas around the southern coast of the lower peninsula of Greece, the ships brought their cargoes from east to west to one of two strategic sea ports on the eastern coast of Greece. The ships either sailed to the port city of Thessalonica in the northern province of Macedonia or to Corinth in the southern province of Achaia. Corinth had two harbors, Cenchrea on the eastern shore of the isthmus on the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea and Lechaeum on the western shore of the isthmus on the Gulf of Corinth of the Adriatic Sea. From the port of Cenchrea the smaller vessels with their cargoes still loaded were rolled overland across the three and a half mile wide isthmus to the port of Lechaeum, where they were relaunched to continue their voyage across the Adriatic Sea to Italy and Rome. The larger ships had their cargoes unloaded at Cenchrea and transported overland across the isthmus to Lechaeum, where the cargoes were reloaded onto waiting ships to carry them to Italy.
Being such an important commercial center of great wealth, plus the capitol city of Achaia, people of many different nationalities and cultures crowded the streets of Corinth. Many sailors on shore leave also visited the city. These factors contributed to the excessive sexual immorality that characterized Corinth, as did the temple of Aphrodite (or Venus), one of the twelve heathen temples in Corinth. Aphrodite was the pagan goddess of love. It has been said that more than one thousand temple prostitutes offered their sexual services as part of the worship of Aphrodite. By A.D. 50 the sexual immorality of Corinth was so infamous that the term to corinthianize was coined to denote people's living in sexual immorality and having intercourse with prostitutes as the Corinthians characteristically did. Greek plays commonly portrayed a citizen of Corinth as either a drunk or a prostitute. It is interesting to note that the heathen idolatry and gross sexuality immorality that Paul described in Romans 1:18-27 he wrote while in Corinth, which was known for its twelve heathen temples and sexual immorality.
The Church Of God In Corinth
The metropolis of Corinth was a city bound in the devil's darkness of worldly wealth and commerce, paganism and heathen religions, sexual immorality and drunkenness, and the love of human philosophy and wisdom. From a strictly human point of view one might think that God would have written off Corinth as a lost cause, the devil's domain, and let its inhabitants go to their deserved eternal destruction. But the one true God of heaven and earth is the Lord of love, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to redeem the sinners of mankind. He had Jesus die to save the sinners of Corinth no less than to save the sinners of the rest of the world. The Lord of love had no intention of writing off all the people of the sin-sick city of Corinth. He had every intention of reaching out with his grace in Jesus Christ to save many of Corinth's inhabitants. Thus he sent his apostle Paul to Corinth and there assured him, I have many people in this city (Acts 18:10).
Paul began his mission work in Corinth during his second missionary journey. Paul's second missionary journey had taken him through Syria, Cilicia, and Galatia to strengthen the churches there. He then passed through Asia Minor, crossed the Aegean Sea to Macedonia, the northern Roman province of Greece, and established the congregations in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. After a short visit in Athens he traveled to Corinth.
According to Acts 18 upon his arrival in Corinth he met a Jewish man named Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who were tentmakers. They asked Paul, who was a tentmaker like themselves, to stay and work with them. Paul worked as a tentmaker during the week and on the Sabbath days he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue. From the Old Testament Scriptures he tried to persuade the Jews and Greek converts to Judaism that the promised Messiah was Jesus Christ. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia and rejoined Paul in Corinth, he began to devote himself exclusively to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jews in the synagogue. When they hardened their hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ and opposed Paul, he turned to the Gentiles in Corinth.
Paul had succeeded in gaining some converts from the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, was one such convert, as well as his household. Another was Titius Justus, who lived next door to the synagogue. With these new converts Paul started the church of God in Corinth. He set up his mission headquarters in the house of Titius Justus. There he proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized (Acts 18:8). In this manner the church in Corinth was established. Paul remained in Corinth for more than one and a half years, longer than he had worked in any one city previous to that time.
Being next door to Paul's mission headquarters, the Jews of the synagogue who had hardened their hearts against the gospel quickly became envious of Paul's success. To silence Paul, they took him to the court of Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Achaia, whose headquarters was there in the capitol city of Corinth. Gallio threw the Jews' case out of his court. He considered Christianity to be a Jewish sect, which, as such, was entitled to the same legal status under Roman law that Judaism enjoyed. He refused to become entangled in what he thought was a Jewish quibbling with Paul over their religious differences of opinion. He ejected the Jews from his court. The hardened Jews then vented their frustrations, anger, and hatred on Sosthenes, another Jewish convert who formerly had been the ruler of the synagogue. They beat Sosthenes in front of the court, but Gallio showed no concern and would not intervene.
Paul was then able to remain in Corinth for some time to finish his work there. He brought his ministry to an end when he concluded his second missionary journey to return to Antioch, Syria, his home base for his missionary work in the East.
The time of Paul's ministry in Corinth can readily be determined. He appeared in the court of Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Achaia in Corinth. Secular records state that Gallio was a brother-in-law of Seneca, and that he was the proconsul of Achaia in A.D. 51 and 52. This sets the time of Paul's ministry in Corinth as A.D. 51 to 52.
Writer Of The Letter Of First Corinthians
“Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,” 1 Corinthians 1:1
Paul is undoubtedly the author of First Corinthians.
Paul included Sosthenes in his greeting. Sosthenes was most likely the Sosthenes who had formerly been the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth, became one of the prominent leaders in the newly founded church, and was therefore beaten by the Jews in front of the court of Gallio (cf. Acts 18:17). Sosthenes was in Ephesus with Paul when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians. Since Sosthenes was a recognized leader in the church in Corinth, it was altogether fitting and proper for Paul to include him in the greeting.
Paul may have had another reason for including Sosthenes' name in the greeting. In this letter Paul had to deal with numerous, serious problems which had arisen within the Corinthian congregation. The inclusion of Sosthenes' name in the greeting would indicate to the Corinthians that their respected leader Sosthenes stood in full agreement with what Paul wrote to them. Sosthenes was giving his support to Paul's manner of handling the problems within the church, which was sadly divided and where Paul's pastoral ministry was being questioned and attacked.
For more information about Paul and his ministry, see An Overview Of The Book Of Acts.
Recipients Of The First Letter To The Corinthians
“To the church of God which is in Corinth,” 1 Corinthians 1:2
Corinth was a prosperous commercial center and the capitol of the Roman province of Achaia. Thus its inhabitants included the wealthy and the noble aristocrats. A large segment of Corinth's population, however, were slaves and poor people. The membership of the church in Corinth appears for the most part not to have been from the upper classes of the rich and nobility but from the lower classes of the slaves and the poor. This seems to have been the case, for Paul stated that among the members of the church there were not many who were considered wise, influential, or of noble birth. Rather, they were the weak, the lowly, and the despised (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26-28). The congregation did have at least one member of some prominence in Corinth, Erastus, the city's director of public works (cf. Romans 16:23).
Place Where The First Letter To The Corinthians Was Written
Ephesus was where Paul wrote this letter. This is made clear by Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 16:8, But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost.
Date When The First Letter To The Corinthians Was Written
Paul wrote this letter while in Ephesus. He ministered there for more than two years and for what was the majority of his third missionary journey. His third missionary journey has been dated as A.D. 53 to 57. It is thought that Paul wrote this letter around the spring of A.D. 56.
Occasion For The Writing Of The First Letter To The Corinthians
Paul kept in touch with the church in Corinth while in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. There he had heard of the problems arising in the congregation during his absence from it. He appears to have left Ephesus to travel across the Aegean Sea to revisit the Corinthian congregation, for in 2 Corinthians 12:14,21 and 13:1 Paul wrote that he was planning a third visit to the congregation. This indicates Paul must have gone back to Corinth a second time during his third missionary journey after his first stay in Corinth on his second missionary journey.
Paul's second visit to the Corinthian congregation failed to resolve the problems which had arisen within it. Paul must have then written a letter to the church to address those problems, especially the troubling issue of sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 5:9 states Paul had written such a letter prior to his writing the letter we now know as First Corinthians. According to the Spirit's wisdom that previous letter was lost and was not preserved for the church's further use.
That lost letter did not resolve the problems within the Corinthian congregation either. At some point in time Paul received a report from the household of Chloe that the congregation was divided into factions over who was their pastor and minister of preference (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:11,12; 4:6).
The congregation responded to Paul's now lost letter with a letter of its own. The letter was most likely carried and delivered to Paul by three leaders of the church, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:17,18). If not from others in the congregation like Sosthenes, or Erastus (cf. Acts 19:22), who had come to Paul in Ephesus, then certainly from those three church leaders, Paul received the report that an instance of sexual immorality even more gross than that of the pagans had surfaced within the congregation. A young man was having sexual relations with his father's wife. The members of the church were proud of this and boasted about it (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-6). Paul had also learned that the members of the congregation were taking one another to the civil courts of the heathen to settle their disputes, rather than having respected leaders of the church settle them.
The letter Paul received from the congregation contained a variety of questions on which the members sought his advice and counsel. They asked about marriage (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1), about the young women getting married (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:25), about the eating of meat from animals the pagans had sacrificed to their idols in their heathen temples (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1), about the women in the congregation covering their heads in the worship services, which was a custom unique to Corinthian society that indicated their submission to the men (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2), and about spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1).
Last, but certainly not least, Paul had learned that some men in the congregation were denying there was a physical resurrection of the body from the dead (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12).
Paul's second visit to Corinth had not resolved the problems within the congregation. His now lost letter had failed to resolve those issues and had only provoked a challenge to his ministry as well as raise more questions. The reports he had received indicated the problems were increasing and intensifying. The congregation was fragmenting and lapsing back into paganism. Thus Paul was prompted to write what we now know as his First Letter to the Corinthians. It was a letter that addressed the problems head on while still conveying an evangelical spirit of love.
Purpose Of The First Letter To The Corinthians
Paul's purpose was to address and resolve the problems within the congregation and to answer the questions the congregation had asked in its letter, in order to unify the members in the Christian faith and life and in a sanctified doctrine and practice.
Theme Of The First Letter To The Corinthians
Paul's appeal for unity in the Christian faith and life and in a sanctified doctrine and practice, (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10)
Outline Of The First Letter To The Corinthians
Part 1: Introduction, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
A. Address, 1 Corinthians 1:1,2
1. From Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:1
2. To the church of God in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:2
B. Opening greeting, 1 Corinthians 1:3
C. Paul gives thanks to God for the Corinthians spiritual blessings of being founded on Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
1. In Jesus Christ they possess the grace of God, which forgives their sins and gives them eternal life through Jesus' redeeming sacrifice, 1 Corinthians 1:4
2. In the past they were enriched in Jesus Christ in their speaking and wisdom, because the gospel of Christ was confirmed in them, 1 Corinthians 1:5,6
3. Because of Jesus Christ and his gospel, they have every spiritual gift that God gives to believers, not only such gifts as wisdom, faith, love, and hope, but even the gifts of working miracles, 1 Corinthians 1:7a
4. They eagerly look forward to the future second coming of Christ, who will then do great things for them, 1 Corinthians 1:7b
5. At the present they had Christ to strengthen them in the faith, so they will be blameless until the day he comes to judge the world, 1 Corinthians 1:8
6. They have the assurance that God, who called them to faith in Jesus Christ, is faithful and will fulfill all his promises to them, 1 Corinthians 1:9
Part 2: Paul Addresses The Problems Within The Corinthian Congregation, 1 Corinthians 1:10-15:58
A. The Purpose And Theme of Paul's Letter, 1 Corinthians 1:10
B. Paul Addresses The Problem Over The Christian Ministry, 1 Corinthians 1:11-4:21
1. You Corinthians are divided into party factions that quarrel over who is your minister of preference, while one party among you disassociates itself from all ministers, even us apostles, and holds little respect for any of their ministries, 1 Corinthians 1:11,12
2. The Christian ministry does not divide up Christ according to which minister proclaims him. The ministry does not center on any one certain minister, like me, Paul. It centers on Christ who was crucified for you and into whom you were baptized, 1 Corinthians 1:13
3. I, Paul, want nothing to do with your party factions over who is your minister of choice. I am glad that I baptized only a couple of you, so you have no basis for identifying yourselves with me and my ministry because I baptized you, 1 Corinthians 1:14-16
4. Christ sent me, Paul, as his minister to simply preach his gospel, and not with words of human wisdom either that empties the cross of Christ of its power to convert the heart. Such is the nature of the ministry, 1 Corinthians 1:17
5. The message of the cross and Christ crucified that we ministers proclaim to you Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16
a. It is the power and the wisdom of God. Yet it is foolishness to those who are perishing, namely the Jews whose hardened hearts demand miraculous signs and the Greeks whose minds seek the wisdom of the philosophers, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
b. My fellow believers in Corinth who have accepted the message of the cross, consider your lowly status in the world when God called you to faith in Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
b.1 God chose you--the foolish, weak, lowly despised things that you were considered by the world--in order to shame the high and mighty, 1 Corinthians 1:26,27
b.2 God chose you, the lowly people that you were, so you cannot boast before him about what you are and have done, 1 Corinthians 1:28,29
b.3 Rather, you can only boast in the Lord God who brought you to faith in Christ, that in him you may have what is truly the wisdom that saves, namely that Christ is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30,31
c. When I, Paul, proclaimed God's message of the cross to you Corinthians, I did not resort to human eloquence and superior wisdom, such as your influential speakers rely on, to win you over. As your minister I simply preached the gospel of Christ crucified for your salvation, which was a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so your faith may rest on his power and not on human wisdom, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
d. We ministers speak the true wisdom of God that was previously unknown in the world but was laid down in eternity. It is God's wisdom of the salvation that is in Christ, which is revealed by the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10a
e. We have received the Spirit, who knows the most intimate thoughts of God, so we may understand what God has freely given us in Christ. We ministers speak this wisdom in words inspired by the Spirit. But man as he is naturally without the Spirit rejects these spiritual truths of wisdom, thinking they are foolishness, because he cannot understand them. But spiritually speaking we have the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16
6. Now, my brothers in Corinth, what follows is a proper spiritual insight into the Christian ministry, 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
a. To you Corinthians who complain that my preaching was too simple I say: I could not speak to you as spiritually mature Christians who were ready for the deeper truths of God's wisdom. For spiritually you were mere infants in the faith who were not yet ready to digest the more solid teachings of God's wisdom. Indeed, you still are not ready for these things, 1 Corinthians 3:1,2
b. You are not yet spiritual but worldly. Your quarreling over who is your favorite minister is proof of your worldliness, 1 Corinthians 3:3,4
c. Contrary to what you think, whichever minister you may hold in high regard is irrelevant.
c.1 What the ministers are is of no consequence, except their being God's servants through whose preaching ministry you were brought to faith, and who were simply carrying out their task that God assigned to them.
c.2 Like Apollos and I, Paul, we ministers are God's fellow workers who are carrying out our respective tasks, through which God, not us, brings about the results and the growth of his church, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
d. Understand the foundation of the ministry, 1 Corinthians 3:10-17
d.1 By God's grace I, Paul, laid the foundation of your church in Corinth, which was the task God gave to me, 1 Corinthians 3:10a
d.2 Now the task God has given to your other ministers is to build on that foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:10b
d.3 The foundation on which all of us ministers alike must build upon is the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins to redeem us, 1 Corinthians 3:10c,11
d.4 Whether a minister builds on this foundation with teachings and practices that support it, or with teachings and practices that detract from it, this will be shown on judgment day, and he will be rewarded accordingly, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
d.5 You believers in Christ have been raised up on this gospel foundation, and thus you are the temple of God. If any minister by what he teaches destroys you as God's temple, God will destroy him, 1 Corinthians 3:16,17
e. Don't deceive yourselves, you wise Corinthians who are still worldly and covet the wisdom of this world. You must become a fool in the world's opinion, so that you may become truly wise in the sight of God. For the ministry is not about the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness to God, but it is about the wisdom of God, namely the gospel of Christ on which you were founded, 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
f. So no more of your boasting about your favorite ministers. You don't belong to them to serve them. Rather, they belong to you to serve you, as everything else belongs to you believers for your benefit, 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
7. How should you Corinthians regard us apostles as ministers of Christ? 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
a. Regard us as servants of Christ, as well as your servants, 1 Corinthians 4:1
a.1 We have been entrusted with the teachings of God that are unknown to the world, 1 Corinthians 4:1
a.2 Contrary to your standards of what you want to require of us, what our Lord Jesus Christ requires of us above all is faithfulness in carrying out the ministry of teaching his Word, 1 Corinthians 4:2
a.3 How you Corinthians judge my ministry matters little to me, for I will be judged by the Lord. So postpone your judgment until the day of judgment when all will be made clear, 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
b. I, Paul, have applied to Apollos and myself the things I have just written to you about the ministry so you may learn not to go beyond the Scriptures in your puffed up pride as followers of one minister or another. For what do you have to be proud about? For who and what you are, and what gifts and abilities you have, are God's doing. You can take no credit for it, 1 Corinthians 4:6,7
c. In your pride you Corinthians have set yourselves up as kings, self-satisfied, all sufficient. You see yourselves as wise, strong, honorable, superior to us lowly apostles and ministers of Christ whom you consider fools, weak, and dishonorable, as we suffer for the ministry of Christ and are treated like the scum of the earth, 1 Corinthians 4:8-13
d. I have written these harsh things about you Corinthians as your spiritual father through the preaching of the gospel, not to shame you, but to warn you to imitate my way of life in Christ. To this end I am sending Timothy to further teach you how you need to live in Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:14-17
e. Among you Corinthians are those who arrogantly resist me, Paul, even daring me to come to you. God willing I will come to you. Then I will find out what you are saying and what power you have. If you lay aside your presumed wisdom and power for the grace and power of God, there will be no further need for me to discipline you, 1 Corinthians 4:18-21
C. Paul addresses the numerous moral and spiritual problems within the Corinthian congregation, 1 Corinthians 5:1-14-40
1. I, Paul, have heard of the immoral incest in your midst, of which you Corinthians are proud and boast. Discipline the immoral man by excommunicating him so his spirit may be led to repent and be saved. Get rid of this sin in your midst, lest it spread through your whole congregation. As I wrote to you previously, do not associate with Christians who have fallen into immorality and gross sins, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
2. Instead of taking one another to the heathens' courts to settle your disputes, appoint judges within your congregation to settle your disputes among yourselves. Since you will judge the world and angels, you ought to have some men who can judge your trivial cases. Your lawsuits show your lack of love and forgiveness. You ought to suffer being wronged rather than do wrong to one another. And get rid of all the other sins committed by the wicked who will not inherit the kingdom of God's glory, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
3. You Corinthians boast that everything is permissible for you. Well, not everything is beneficial when it comes to adiaphra which God has neither commanded nor forbidden. And sexual immorality and going to prostitutes are not adiaphra. Flee the sexual immorality for which your city of Corinth is so infamous. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, honor God with your body through maintaining the purity of your body, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
4. Paul addresses the moral and spiritual matters about which the Corinthians wrote for his advice and counsel, 1 Corinthians 7:1-14:40
a. About marriage, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24
a.1 Marriage and the sexual satisfaction that husband and wife are to give to one another is a deterrent to the sin of sexual immorality. Thus husbands and wives should not deprive one another of their sexual union, 1 Corinthians 7:1-7
a.2 You unmarried ones should know that a celibate life is good. But if you cannot control your sexual urges, marry rather than burn in passion, 1 Corinthians 7:8,9
a.3 You who are married should not divorce your spouse. The one who leaves a spouse has but two options: remain unmarried or be reconciled to his or her spouse, 1 Corinthians 7:10,11
a.4 The rest of you in the congregation should know that mixed marriages should not be broken if the unbeliever is willing to continue his marriage with his believing spouse. But if the unbeliever leaves and deserts the marriage, the believer is no longer bound to that marriage, 1 Corinthians 7:12-16
a.5 Whether you are single or married, a circumcised Jewish believer or an uncircumcised Gentile believer, a slave or a free man--retain the place in life the Lord has assigned to you, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
b. About young women getting married, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
b.1 Because of the present crisis, remaining unmarried has its advantages. If you do marry, however, this is all right, but you will face many problems, of which I, Paul, am trying to spare you, 1 Corinthians 7:25-28
b.2 Since the time is short, don't let your life be devoted to the affairs of this life, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
b.3 Be free from the concerns about life. Even the concerns of your marriage should not distract you from an undivided devotion to our Lord, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
b.4 A father can give his daughter into marriage without sinning or not give her into marriage without sinning. But because of the present crisis, postponing the marriage is the better choice, 1 Corinthians 7:36-38
b.5 Widows are free to remarry whomever they wish only in the Lord. But in view of the troubled times, she will be happier remaining unmarried, 1 Corinthians 7:39,40
c. About meat from animals the pagans sacrificed to their idols, 1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1
c.1 Love the weak and don't cause them to stumble, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
c.1.1 Yes, we all possess knowledge, as you Corinthians say. Know this then: knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The one who stands on his knowledge lacks real knowledge. The one who loves God, which includes loving his fellow believers, is known by God, 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
c.1.2 We know that an idol, any of the so-called gods, is nothing. There is but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6
c.1.3 Not all of you Corinthian Christians who were delivered from pagan idolatry know this yet. Some of you, because of your past paganism, have a weak conscience that still thinks of the meat as having been sacrificed to an idol and it is therefore defiled meat. In reality, whether we eat or do not eat the meat does not bring us closer to God, 1 Corinthians 8:7,8
c.1.4 Be careful in exercising your freedom to eat the meat, that you do not cause those with a weak conscience to stumble in their faith and sin against their conscience by eating what they think is defiled meat. Should you do this, you destroy your weak brother and sin against Christ who died to save him. I, Paul, will personally refrain from eating meat, though I am free to eat it, if my eating it will cause my brother to sin, 1 Corinthians 8:9-13
c.2 Consider, Corinthians, the rights that I, Paul, and Barnabas also, sacrifice in love as an apostle for the furthering of Christ's gospel among you, 1 Corinthians 9:1-27
c.2.1 Am I not free as an apostle and do I not have the right to receive the basic necessities, as well as to have a wife with me as do the other apostles, the Lord's brothers, and Peter? Must only Barnabas and I work to support ourselves? 1 Corinthians 9:1-6
c.2.2 No soldier serves at his own expense. No vinegrower or shepherd is denied the right to eat his own grapes or to drink of his flock's milk. Even in the Old Testament God made it clear that we who sow a spiritual seed among you have the right to receive a material harvest from you. We surely have the right to support from you, 1 Corinthians 9:7-12a
c.2.3 Yet Barnabas and I, Paul, did not make use of this right, so as not to hinder the gospel of Christ in winning souls for salvation, even though the Lord said that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:12b-14
c.2.4 Yet, I, Paul, have not used any of these rights to which I am entitled, in order to preach the gospel freely, 1 Corinthians 9:15-18
c.2.5 I, Paul, am a free man. Yet I make myself subservient to everyone to save as many as possible and for the sake of preaching the gospel, that I myself may share in its blessings, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
c.2.6 Corinthians, to share in the gospel's blessings, run the race of faith through strict self-denial and strenuous effort to win the prize, the crown of life everlasting, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
c.3 Beware of being associated with idols, 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1
c.3.1 The history of Israel is an example to warn you as God's highly favored Christians against associating with idols and idolatrous practices, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
c.3.1.a Consider the special favors and spiritual blessings that the Israelites in the wilderness had from God. Yet God was not pleased with them and they perished in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:1-5
c.3.1.b You Corinthians, who do not deny yourselves to win the race of faith and are returning to idolatrous practices, should heed the example of what God did to the Israelites who indulged themselves in idolatrous practices that included sexual immorality, and who tested the Lord and grumbled, 1 Corinthians 10:6-10
c.3.1.c Their sins and God's punishment were written as examples to warn you not to set your hearts on committing such sins. If you think you are standing firm, be careful you don't fall into the temptations common to all. Put your trust in your faithful God, who will not allow you to be tempted too severely and will help you to bear it and overcome it, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13
c.3.2 Flee idolatry, which makes you participants with demons, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
c.3.2.a Flee idolatry, for we Christians in the Lord's Supper are made one in fellowship in participating in the body and the blood of Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:14-17
c.3.2.b Consider this Corinthians: Like the Israelites who eat the sacrificial meat participate in the sacrifice offered at the altar to God, so the pagans who offer their sacrifices to their idol and eat of the meat participate in offering sacrifices, not to an idol which is nothing, but to demons. You cannot be participants with demons. You cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons, lest you arouse the Lord's jealousy to punish you, 1 Corinthians 10:18-22
c.3.3 Do not exercise your freedom at the expense of your fellow Christians, 1 Corinthians 10:23-11.1
c.3.3.a Everything is permissible, you Corinthians say. But not everything is beneficial. So don't seek your own good but what is good for your fellow Christians, 1 Corinthians 10:23,24
c.3.3.b Eat anything from the meat market without raising questions of conscience about whether its idol's meat. For it comes from the Lord to sustain you, 1 Corinthians 10:25,26
c.3.3.c Should you Corinthians be a guest for dinner at an unbeliever's house, eat the food without asking questions of conscience about where the food came from and whether it is all right to eat it. However, if your fellow Christian is there, who has a weak conscience about the origin of the food and claims it came from an idol's sacrifice, don't eat it for the sake of his weak conscience. Then your freedom to eat it will not be judged as a sin, 1 Corinthians 10:27-30
c.3.3.d Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it to glorify God and without causing any Christian to stumble. Do what is for the good of others so they may be saved, 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
d. About whether it is proper in worship services for the women to have their heads uncovered, 1 Corinthians 11:2-34
d.1 I, Paul, praise you for holding to what I taught you, 1 Corinthians 11:2
d.1.1 Understand, Corinthians, that Christ is the head of every man, man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:3
d.1.2 A man who covers his head while praying and prophesying dishonors his head, Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:4
d.1.3. In your Corinthians' society a woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, her father or husband. She disgraces herself. Since a woman is the glory of man according to God's order of creation, she should have her head covered as a sign of the man's authority over her and her submissiveness to him, 1 Corinthians 11:5-10
d.1.4 In the Lord men and women are not independent of one another. But given the custom in Corinth of women having their heads covered as a sign of their submission to the men over them, you can judge for yourselves that is improper in your worship services for a woman to have her head uncovered. This is evident from the nature of things in your society. But if any of you Corinthians want to argue about this, we have no such practice that the women must cover their heads, nor do the churches of God, 1 Corinthians 11:11-16
d.2 Since I am on the subject of what is proper in your worship services: whereas I, Paul, praised you before for holding to what I taught you, I have no praise for you in the instructions that I give you now, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
d.2.1 When you gather as a church you are riddled with divisions and you corrupt the Lord's Supper with your drunken love feasts and fellowship meals, 1 Corinthians 11:18-22
d.2.2 I, Paul, taught you what the Lord Jesus taught me about what is to be said and done in the Lord's Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
d.2.3 Whomever among you eats or drinks in an unworthy manner sins against the body and the blood of the Lord. So each one should examine himself before his eating and drinking to prevent bringing the Lord's judgment on himself, which some among you have already experienced, 1 Corinthians 11:27-32
d.2.4 So when you come together to eat, do what is right so it does not result in your being judged, 1 Corinthians 11:33,34
e. About spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40
e.1 I, Paul, want you to know that no one who has the Spirit will blaspheme Jesus. It is only by the Spirit that a person can confess with a believing heart that Jesus is the Lord, 1 Corinthians 12:1-3
e.2 The Spirit gives a variety of gifts for different ministries and effects for the common good of the church, the last of which gifts are speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues. The Spirit distributes the different gifts to different Christians as he wills to distribute them, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
e.3 We are many individual members who were baptized by the Spirit into the body and church of Christ. We all have received the Spirit, and as individual members we serve our individual functions in the body of Christ. Together with our different gifts and functions the body of Christ is able to function in harmony as a unified whole. The body of Christ needs all of us individual members, who do not all serve the same function in the church, nor do we all have the same gifts. Desire the greater gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
e.4 I, Paul, will show you the most excellent way when it comes to gifts. This is the way of love, 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13
e.4.1 Whether I have the gift to speak eloquently or to prophesy, or the gift of wisdom or of a great faith, or whether I am generous or willing to suffer martyrdom--without love I am nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
e.4.2 Love is active, producing the most excellent virtues, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
e.4.3 Love, unlike other gifts, never fails, nor will it ever cease. Now we know and proclaim God's prophetic Word only in part. When the Lord Jesus comes, this imperfection will be replaced with a perfect knowledge. But love will endure forever, as will faith and hope. But the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
e.5 Use your spiritual gifts, you Corinthians, properly in your worship services, 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
e.5.1 Demonstrate love in your worship services, 1 Corinthians 14:1a
e.5.2 Yes, Corinthians, eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the greater gifts as I told you before, such as the gift of prophecy to speak what God has revealed to you or to preach God's Word from the Scriptures. The gift of prophecy is greater than the gift of speaking in tongues. For prophesying speaks God's Word to those in your worship services for their spiritual understanding, strengthening, encouragement, and comfort, 1 Corinthians 14:1b-5
e.5.3 My brothers in Corinth, if I, Paul, speak to you in tongues, you profit not at all. You benefit only when I speak some revelation from God, or knowledge, or prophecy, or word of instruction, which you can understand. Likewise in your worship services, unless you speak intelligible words no one will understand what you are saying to benefit from it. Therefore, excel in the gifts of the Spirit that build up the church spiritually, 1 Corinthians 14:6-12
e.5.4 Anyone among you Corinthians who speaks in a tongue in your worship services should pray for the ability to interpret what he speaks, so others of you can understand what he says and be edified by it, 1 Corinthians 14:13-17
e.5.5 As for myself, I, Paul, who thank God for speaking in tongues more than all of you, prefer in the worship services to speak five intelligible words rather than ten thousand words in a tongue which no one can understand, 1 Corinthians 14:18,19
e.5.6 My brothers in Corinth, with regard to your pride in speaking in tongues in your worship services, stop thinking like children. Grow up! Think like adults. Consider what Isaiah foretold about the Israelites. When God, as punishment for Israel's impenitence, sent the Assyrians to conquer them, the Israelites' hearing the foreign tongue of their invaders in their streets still did not lead them to repent. So then, speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers, but the clear speaking of God's prophetic Word is for believers. In your worship services if an unbeliever hears all of you speaking in a tongue, he will think you are all crazy. But if he hears you plainly speaking the Word of God, he will be led to repent and worship God, 1 Corinthians 14:20-25
e.5.7 My brothers in Corinth, what shall we say about your worship services? They are a chaotic mess, since each one wants to do his own thing. Each one of you has his own hymn that he wants sung, or has his own word of instruction or a revelation for others to hear, or a tongue to speak, or an interpretation of a tongue to give. Get organized! Here is an axiom for your worship services: Let all things be done in a manner that spiritually builds up the church. You don't do what does not build up the church spiritually, 1 Corinthians 14:26
e.5.7.a Tongue speakers can speak publicly to your assembly only if someone can interpret what he says for the benefit of the others. Otherwise, the tongue speaker must remain silent in the church. He is not permitted to address your assembly, 1 Corinthians 14:27,28
e.5.7.b In your worship services no more than two or three prophets who have a revelation or a word of instruction to speak should be allowed to address your assembly. If someone in the congregation suddenly receives a revelation from God, let him be given the floor to address your assembly, 1 Corinthians 14:29-33
e.5.7.c As in all the congregations, let the women remain silent in your services. They are not permitted to publicly address your assembly or to raise questions. For such public speaking of the women is disgraceful. Don't argue about this. For the Word of God certainly did not originate with you, nor are you the only ones it has reached. If someone among you thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, then let him acknowledge that what I have just written to you Corinthians is not my assessment but is the Lord's command. If the person wants to ignore these instructions to do otherwise, he himself will be ignored, 1 Corinthians 14:34-38
e.6 Therefore, to sum up this matter of spiritual gifts, be eager to proclaim clearly what God has said, but do not forbid the speaking in tongues. Here is another axiom for your worship services: Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way, 1 Corinthians 14:39,40
D. Paul addresses the doctrinal problem within the Corinthian congregation concerning the resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58
1. Now, my brothers in Corinth, I, Paul, want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and stand on. By this gospel you are saved if you hold to it. This gospel, which I received from the Lord, I taught to you as being of the highest importance. It includes both the good news that Christ died for our sins as promised in the Old Testament and that he was then raised from the dead on the third day as also promised in the Old Testament. And there are many witnesses to testify to his bodily resurrection from the dead, for they saw Christ alive and living, as I myself did also, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
2. We apostles, of whom I am the least and do not deserve such honor, preach this gospel of Christ's death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead. This is also what you believed, 1 Corinthians 15:9-11
3. Since the resurrection of Christ is preached, how can some of you Corinthians say now that there is no resurrection of the dead? You fail to grasp the implications of your denial. If, as you say, there is no resurrection of the dead, then logically and doctrinally: 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
a. Christ was not raised either.
b. Our preaching that Christ rose from the dead is useless.
c. Your faith is also useless.
d. We apostles are false witnesses for testifying that God raised Christ from the dead.
e. You are still in your sins.
f. Those who died believing in Christ are lost eternally.
g. We should be pitied above all people for holding what is a hopeless hope in Christ for eternal life.
4. But the truth is Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are dead. In Christ all the dead will be made alive when he comes at the end of time. Then he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, abolish all rule and authority and power, and even death itself. All things will be subjected to him and he will be subject to God, that God may be all in all, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
5. The resurrection of the dead impacts our lives. Because there is a resurrection of the dead: 1 Corinthians 15:29-34
a. There are those in the danger of death for following Christ who are baptized over the dead in the hope of the resurrection of the dead.
b. I, Paul, risk the danger of dying for Christ all the time.
c. We don't follow the hedonistic philosophy to party today since we will die tomorrow.
d. We are self-controlled and stop committing the sins of those who have no knowledge of God.
6. Some of you Corinthians may deny there is a resurrection of the dead because you cannot understand what the resurrected body will be like. The resurrected body will be unlike the earthly body. It will be different. It will be an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual body. Now we possess a natural body, like that of Adam's, who became a living being from the dust of the earth. But the resurrected body will be a spiritual body in the likeness of Christ's, the last Adam and man from heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
7. I, Paul, declare to you Corinthians that the body of flesh and blood, such as we now possess, cannot inherit the kingdom of God's glory. I tell you a mystery that you do not understand: Not all of us will die before the last day, but our bodies will be changed nevertheless. When the last trumpet sounds, in a blinking of an eye, the dead will be raised imperishable and we who are living will have our bodies changed. Our bodies will then be imperishable and immortal, and we will have the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
8. Therefore, to sum up this matter of the resurrection of the body: Stand firm in faith and give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. For you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain, 1 Corinthians 15:58
Part 3: Conclusion, 1 Corinthians 16:1-24
A. The collection for God's people, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4
B. Paul's plans to revisit Corinth after he has finished his work in Ephesus, 1 Corinthians 16:5-9
C. Paul's request in behalf of Timothy, 1 Corinthians 16:10,11
D. Paul's news about Apollos and his coming to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 16:12
E. Paul's final encouragement, 1 Corinthians 16:13,14
F. Paul's acknowledgment of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, 1 Corinthians 16:15-18
G. Closing greetings, 1 Corinthians 16:19-21
H. Closing admonition and invitation for the Lord Jesus to come, 1 Corinthians 16:22
I. Closing benediction, 1 Corinthians 16:23
J. Paul's closing confession of love in Christ for the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 16:24