In the epistle of First Corinthians, the Corinthian church had fallen into divisiveness and disorder. This resulted in many problems, which Paul addressed squarely. We must be concerned about unity and order in our local churches, but we should not mistake inactivity for order and cordiality for unity. We too must squarely address problems in our churches.
The Corinthians had sent Paul a list of questions, and he answered them in a way meant to correct abuses in the church and to show how important it is that they live what they believe. Paul gives us a Christian approach to problem-solving. He analyzed the problem thoroughly to uncover the underlying issue and then highlighted the Biblical values that should guide our actions.
Written by the apostle Paul, in the company of Sosthenes (I Corinthians 1:1). First and Second Corinthians bear the unmistakable marks of Pauline authorship. This first epistle was written from Ephesus during Paul’s third missionary journey, perhaps A.D. 55. The second letter followed some 12 to 15 months later from Macedonia, where Paul met Titus and received news of the church’s repentance.
About A. D. 55, near the end of Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus, during his third missionary journey.
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To Whom Written
To “the ekklesia of God which is at Corinth… with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
The purpose of the book of First Corinthians was to correct many problems that had developed among the believers in Corinth and to answer the letter that the leaders there had written to Paul, after his visit. Most importantly, Paul had heard of the many divisions among the Corinthians. They were allowing gross sexual immorality in one of their number and were not correcting him. Secondarily, they had written him a letter with several questions, none of which had to do with the significant problems that were extant among them.
The problems which Paul faced in the church of Corinth were complex and explosive. The correspondence resulted in rich and profound theological insight. Corinth, like its neighboring city of Athens, symbolized Greek culture in its desire for wisdom and power. Paul relied on the irony of the cross, “to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness”.
The foolishness of the gospel – indeed, its offensiveness to cultured Greeks – was the indication of its power to save.
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