1 Corinthians

Overview
ON A bed of grass, a chameleon’s skin turns green. On the earth, it becomes brown. The animal changes to match the environment. Many creatures blend into nature with God-given camouflage suits to aid their survival. It’s natural to fit in and adapt to the environment. But followers of Christ are new creations, born from above and changed from within, with values and life-styles that confront the world and clash with accepted morals. True believers don’t blend in very well. The Christians in Corinth were struggling with their environment. Surrounded by corruption and every conceivable sin, they felt the pressure to adapt. They knew they were free in Christ, but what did this freedom mean? How should they view idols or sexuality? What should they do about marriage, women in the church, and the gifts of the Spirit? These were more than theoretical questions; the church was being undermined by immorality and spiritual immaturity. The believers’ faith was being tried in the crucible of immoral Corinth, and some of them were failing the test. Paul heard of their struggles and wrote this letter to address their problems, heal their divisions, and answer their questions. Paul confronted them with their sin and their need for corrective action and clear commitment to Christ.
After a brief introduction (1:1-9), Paul immediately turns to the question of unity (1:10–4:21). He emphasizes the clear and simple gospel message around which all believers should rally; he explains the role of church leaders; and he urges them to grow up in their faith. Paul then deals with the immorality of certain church members and the issue of lawsuits among Christians (5:1–6:8). He tells them to exercise church discipline and to settle their internal matters themselves. Because so many of the problems in the Corinthian church involved sex, Paul denounces sexual sin in the strongest possible terms (6:9-20). Next, Paul answers some questions that the Corinthians had. Because prostitution and immorality were pervasive, marriages in Corinth were in shambles, and Christians weren’t sure how to react. Paul gives pointed and practical answers (7:1-40). Concerning the question of meat sacrificed to idols, Paul suggests that they show complete commitment to Christ and sensitivity to other believers, especially weaker brothers and sisters (8:1–11:2). Paul goes on to talk about worship, and he carefully explains the role of women, the Lord’s Supper, and spiritual gifts (11:3–14:40). Sandwiched in the middle of this section is his magnificent description of the greatest gift—love (chapter 13). Then Paul concludes with a discussion of the resurrection (15:1-58), some final thoughts, greetings, and a benediction (16:1-24). In this letter Paul confronted the Corinthians about their sins and shortcomings. And 1 Corinthians calls all Christians to be careful not to blend in with the world and accept its values and life-styles. We must live Christ-centered, blameless, loving lives that make a difference for God. As you read 1 Corinthians, examine your values in light of complete commitment to Christ.

Background

Corinth was a major city, a seaport and major trade centre- The most important city in Achaia. It was also filled with idolatry and immorality. The church was largely made up of Gentiles. St Paul had established this church on his second missionary Journey.


Purpose
To identify problems in the Corinthian church, to offer solutions and to teach the believers how to live for Christ in a corrupt society. To address division and immorality and to encourage them to love each other.

Date Written
Approximately AD 55, near the end of St Paul’s three years ministry in Ephesus, during his third missionary journey.

Key Verse
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 Cor 1:10

1 Corinthians Bible Study Download