Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
Corinth, with nearly 200,000 inhabitants, was a great center of trading. Prosperity abounded there.
First Corinthians is a letter written to the most corrupt Christian church addressed in the Bible. Paul tells the Corinthians how to live correctly.
Three years after Paul left Corinth, the Corinthian church sent a delegation of its leaders to Ephesus to consult with Paul about some serious problems that had arisen in the church. Writing from Ephesus, where he spent at least three years, Paul addresses the Corinthian church concerning the significance of the new life in Christ, which should be demonstrated in the fellowship within the Church. He advises them regarding spiritual gifts, Christian love, and the meaning of the Resurrection.
Paul founded the church in Corinth, during his second missionary trip.
A few years later, the apostle Paul heard some disturbing reports about the Corinthian church. Disagreements, incorrect teachings, and quarreling over whose spiritual gifts were better had created great disharmony. They were full of pride and were excusing sexual immorality. The church struggled with divisions, with immorality, and with the use of spiritual gifts.
Chapter 1 deals with the need for the Church to be unified in its beliefs and to look ultimately to Christ for unity and not to men.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10
Chapter 2 encourages the members to seek the wisdom that comes from God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 3 is a primer on the need to not be enticed and overly influenced by personalities and to realize that it is God who should get the credit for the spiritual work that is done.
Chapter 4 is an appeal by Paul to follow the things that he had taught them when he was with them.
Chapter 5 gives some details about how the congregation had grown lax in dealing with sin. They apparently felt that being a Christian meant that they were supposed to be tolerant of sin rather than addressing it in a godly way.
Chapter 6 instructs the members to resolve their differences in a godly manner and not through the courts of the land. It also deals with the need to remain spiritually pure, regardless of how corrupt and vulgar the culture may be.
Chapter 7 contains answers to questions about marriage, separation and divorce among believers.
Chapter 8 is an answer to a question they asked about eating meats that had been offered to idols. Paul advised them to not cause offense to others who looked at it differently.
Chapter 9, in the context of their question, includes a discussion of tithing. Paul shows that the ministry, according to the law of God, should be supported from the tithes of the people.
Chapter 10 explains, just because God has revealed His truth to us, that doesn’t guarantee that He will continue to accept us if we turn away from Him.
Our real value in the eyes of God is to be found in our character, and the most important trait of character is love—an outgoing concern for others.
Chapter 12 deals with spiritual gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, miraculous powers, serving, leading, teaching, etc.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Chapter 13 This Love Chapter is read at many wedding ceremonies. It extols the superiority of character to all other things. How we live our lives is far more important than what we have and how important we may be. Our real value in the eyes of God is to be found in our character, and the most important trait of character is love—an outgoing concern for others.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13
Chapter 14 discusses in detail the issue of spiritual gifts and focuses primarily on the gift of tongues. Paul was concerned that the Corinthians were getting carried away with spiritual gifts, using them to inflate their personal pride. He cautions them to realize that God gives spiritual gifts to do His work, not to promote pride and superiority among the recipients of these gifts.
Chapter 15 gives evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul assures us that many people saw Jesus after his resurrection: Peter; the twelve apostles; more than 500 Christian believers, James (Jesus’ brother); all the apostles; and finally Paul himself.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Chapter 16 concludes this letter with instructions about a collection being made for the suffering saints in Jerusalem and a final appeal to treat each other with love and to strive for unity.