Summary: This series is configured for a short 15 minute study or message. We will be taking a close look at the instructions, counseling and guidance that were given, in writing, to the Corinthians.
Tonight begins a walk-through of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. For the next year or so we will be taking a close look at the instructions, counseling and guidance that were given, in writing, to the Corinthians. But before we get into this study, we need to know a little background about the book.
Author: Paul, the Apostle. The writing is in the style of which Paul wrote and the description of Corinth and its people fit the era in which Paul ministered.
Date: Uncertain, but is believed to have been written around A.D. 54-56. In the history books, Clement of Rome referred to the Corinthian letter in a letter that he wrote around A.D. 96. Ignatius and Polycarp in Christian history often quoted from the letter around A.D. 155. It’s believed that Paul wrote this letter while on his 3rd missionary journey.
Paul began his 3rd missionary journey through Galatia as is recorded in Acts 18:23. Afterwards he went to Ephesus for his 3 year ministry and the writing of 1 Corinthians. This would place the writing of this letter in the mid-50s.
To Whom written: As indicated in 1:2, it was written to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.
Why the letter was written: 3 reasons.
1. To draw the church back together in a spirit of unity as one body in Christ. The church was severely divided and split, feuding and arguing, and forming cliques.
2. Deals with moral laxity in the church.
3. To answer certain questions that the church had. Some of these questions concerned marriage, Christian liberty and rights, public worship, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection.
ABOUT CORINTH: Corinth was the capital of Achaia, located at the southern tip of Greece. It was on a narrow strip of land only 4-5 miles across, almost like an island. This provided two natural harbors, one on the east coast and the other on the west coast. Corinth was a commercial paradise. All commercial travelers traveling north and south chose to travel through Corinth.
It had a large population, a mixture of nationalities including Greek, Latins, Jews, Egyptians, Syrians, and Asiatics. Being a prosperous city, Corinth was a sports-minded center. The Isthmian Games, considered the most important athletic events next to the Olympics, were held in Corinth.
Corinth was morally corrupt. Because of the high population of traveling salesmen, and the material prosperity, Corinth was party city. Drunkenness and all sorts of immoral living was everywhere. The city’s name even became a byword for evil and immoral living. They worshipped the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The temple housed 1,000 sacred prostitutes. Talk about an oxymoron.
Corinth was an intellectual and cultural center. The pursuit of personal and pleasure was the norm. There was little recognition of the law. The population of the city has been estimated at about half a million. So this city needed the gospel.
When Paul entered the city, we are told in 2:3 that he entered “in weakness and fear and with much trembling.” He might have been a little discouraged at all he saw. He was alone so he was at the mercy of God.
God met Paul’s needs. Almost immediately, God brought Paul two believers to help him, Aquila and Priscilla (a woman). They were tentmakers but they were godly Jews who had been expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius. It wasn’t long until Silas and Timothy returned to him so encouraged and pressed in the spirit, Paul entered the synagogue and began his ministry, testifying that Jesus is the Christ.
He was so successful that the hostile Jews forced him out of the synagogue. He moved next door to the home of a man named Justus and this became his base of operations. God gave Paul a vision assuring him that many people were to be reached for Christ. His ministry lasted 18 months. His largest number of converts were Gentiles.
So Corinth was a cesspool of immorality and the night club life in the ancient world. But Paul says in 1 Cor. 1: 26-29. READ.
By the way, we are pretty sure that 1 Corinthians was actually the 2nd letter written to the Corinthians because Paul mentions the first letter he wrote in 1 Cor. 5:9. That first letter has been lost.
Paul was in Ephesus when he received a letter from the Corinthians of the division and moral corruption within the church. That’s when Paul answers their letter with the letter that we know as 1 Corinthians.
Paul apparently then gets news that things got worse in Corinth and so he makes another visit and writes his third letter to the Corinthians that has been lost. That letter is mentioned in 2 Cor. 2:4 and 7:8 which was delivered by Titus.