Summary: Opening introduction & background on the letter to 1 Corinthians followed by expository thoughts on verses 1-3 looking at the Apostle Paul the Corinthians and his opening greeting to his beloved family.
1 Corinthians chapter 1:1-3 Refocus on Christ
Author Paul - Date : 51-52 AD, Corinth in the Region of Achaia Written probably around 53-55 Ad on his 3rd mission trip from Ephesus. 1Cor 5:9 unknown letter previous to 1, 2 Corinthians.
Our first introduction to Corinth in the Bible is found in Acts 18:1-18 - Pauls 2nd missionary journey from Athens where he had debated with the philosophers of the day and had left behind a new church plant.
Corinth was 46 miles west of Athens , in the region of Achaia, today called Greece it was easily accessible with great trade routes a great travel centre situated between the Aegean & Adriatic seas. It was an important city for trade & commerce. Two hundred years prior to Paul's arrival Corinth had been decimated by the Romans and its inhabitants enslaved 146BC . But after a century Julius Caeser rebuilt it a new Corinth, which became the capital of Achia, ruled by a proconsul. From (Acts 18:12) we learn Gallio occupied the office during Paul's 18 month Church planting trip.
44 BC Corinth was a Roman Colony a place where discharged Roman soldiers from the entire Roman empire were often resettled at Corinth. Hence Roman culture and practices were common place As a result Corinth had become a wealthy cosmopolitan sea port and it was renowned for being at the cutting edge of Mediterranean life & culture. It was ethnically diverse with a rich mix of religion & thought and cultic practices. It drew all the itinerant philosophers, rhetoricians, entertainers into this milieu The Apostle Paul brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ Crucified.
Archaeological excavations have shown evidence of a city which was devoted to excesses in entertainment, self indulgence, decadent & immoral life styles with an overpowering desire for more, the idols of success, money, pleasure & pagan practices were palpable these issues come to the fore in the letter 1 Corinthians as Paul addresses them in the embryonic Church of Corinth.
Acts 18:1-3 Team Building Paul meet up Aquila & Priscilla Jew’s ’s who had become Christians and had to flee from Rome as they had been forced to leave. They like Paul they were tent makers and so they worked and lived together. While he waited for Silas and Timothy to arrive from Macedonia to support the Church planting work in Corinth.
Acts 18. 4- 8 Evangelistic Preaching & teaching Paul begin in the Synagogue every Sabbath as custom. Jews & Greek proselytes. He knew much resistance to the Gospel v6 but Paul continued in the house of a man called Titius Justus who was a Worshiper of God who lived right next door to the synagogue v7. Here God powerfully worked as the synagogue ruler Crispus & his whole family got saved as a result many other Corinthians are saved & baptised v8. So this initial Church plant was beginning to take shape into a diverse mix of new believers of Jewish, Greek & Roman with their own previous baggage of practices.
Acts 18: 9- 18 . A word from the Lord It was tough work for Paul and the others in Corinth. But Paul was encouraged in a vision from the Lord to persevere. Paul is assured of protection and to continue preaching Christ because there are many more who were to be saved in his 18 month stay in Corinth. But it wasn't without battles from the Jews who insisted the proconsul of Achia, Gallilio, do something about the heretic Paul. The Lord was true to His word and Paul continued to serve the Lord in Corinth for 18 months teaching the Word of God establishing the foundations of the Church. Days later setting sail for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila.
Literary Theme - This letter is pastoral letter to a spiritually troubled church. The body of the letter is taken up with real life situations in the church and real questions that needed answers. It’s a highly relevant letter today because it deals with the same issues which the Church needs to address in the 21st century. Issues in regard to our relationships between Christians and the surrounding culture, divisions in the Church, personalities have brought division, Paul is seeking unity, the ordering of church practices (Lords supper, appropriate worship , head coverings use of spiritual gifts) Personal & corporate morality in regard to sex, marriage & divorce, celibacy and above all the virtues of love.
Refocus on Christ our Lord v 1- 3
1. The writer - Paul’s stamp of Authority
(i) The Man - His Apostleship
Despite his reader knowing full well who Paul is he wants to open up by laying down his apostolic authority to a Church he had birthed and established and which was at the point of becoming dysfunctional in its practice & purpose, losing its bearing due to strong personalities who sought to undermine Paul’ authority and its cultural surroundings entering into the body. Paul states, he is the man, called by the Will of God, to be an Apostle – An Apostle is one whom is sent with all the authority of the One whom has commissioned him in Pauls case his emphasis is on the Anointed One, Christ Jesus who is their Saviour & Lord. Christ Jesus Himself has called Paul to be an Apostle.