The book of 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1)

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Most scholars believe that Pauls wrote 1 Corinthians in A.D. 54-55 on the grounds of a chronology for Acts that places Paul’s first visit to Corinth during the time of Gallio, at A.D. 51-52 (see Allio, proconsul of Achaia under Acts 18). Paul wrote his letter from Ephesus (16:8). The difficult chronology of the Corinthian visits and correspondence will be addressed under 2 Corinthians 2.

Corinth was a thrivping, cosmopolitan city, known for its diversity, culture, commerse, paganism, immorality and great wealth. As founder of the church of Corinth, Paul was vitally concerned about its spiritual welfare. He wrote 1 Corinthians in response to a formidable number of problems that had arisen. He had been “officially” informed of some of these issues (5:1) but was made aware of others on the basis of questions from the Corinthian believers (7:1). There were factions in the church (chapter 1), elitism and conflict over spiritual gifts (chapters 2, 12-13), sexual immorality (chapters 5-6, 10), challenges to Paul’s authority (chapter 9), nascent heresy about the resurrection (chapter 15), aberrant practices in the worship services (chapter 11) and questions about proper Christian behaviour (chapters 7-8).

As you read 1 Corinthians, look for principles and practical information that can be applied to Christian living and modern church relationships. Note Paul’s advice regarding divisiveness, marriage, Christian freedom, worship, spiritual gifts and church unity. Study and find encouragement in his argument that Jesus’ resurrection was a factual, historical event.

Did you know that the term “household” generally included family members, servants or anyone else who lived in a house (1:16)? Did you know that the emperor Nero sometimes clothed Christians in the skins of beasts when he exposed them to wild beasts (4:9)? Sid you know that the Roman orator Cicero asserted that incest was practically unheard of in Roman society (5:1)? Did you know that in the culture of Paul’s day men uncovered their heads in worship to signify their respect for and submission to deity (11:4)? Did you know that the central Christian confession, “Jesus is Lord”, was a particular problem in the Roman empire, because the affirmation of the sovereignty of Jesus was a direct challenge to the claim of absolute rule on the part of the Roman emperor (12:3)?

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