1 Corinthians

FIRST CORINTHIANS. Trouble began in Corinth after Apollos came to that city. Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures (Acts 18:24). He was a great blessing to the Corinthian church, for he effectively watered the seed that Paul had planted (1 Corinthians 3:6).

However, an Apollos party, a Paul party, a Cephas party, and a Christ party soon resulted. The Peter partisan may have come from Judaizers. Apollos and Paul were different in style and training. Paul had more weight and intellectual grasp, Apollos had a more oratorical display in his speech. The two preachers were accomplished OT scholars.

Apollos would not be party to such rivalry, and so he left. He came back to Ephesus. Paul urged him to return to Corinth, but Apollos strongly refused (1 Corinthians 16:12). Timothy along with this letter combine to straighten out some of the factions, leaving the Judaizers and Pauline parties by the time Second Corinthians is written.

Paul’s purpose in writing First Corinthians is twofold: (1) to correct the disorders existing in the church; and (2) to answer the questions that they had submitted to him. This letter is the simplest and most direct of Paul’s writings.

The letter focuses on the three primary concerns of Christ’s Prayer (John 17:11-23): (1) believers in the world; (2) believers in Christ; and (3) believers in oneness.

Paul employs the 3-D approach in this letter: (1) he presents the difficulties; (2) he addresses them with doctrine; (3) and he calls for decision. The letter is a call to be what they are in Christ—saints!


First Corinthians: Called to be Holy

Writer: Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus

Secretary: Sosthenes, Our Brother

Addressee: Church of God in Corinth (Contradiction of terms, yet purpose)

Date and Place Written: Early Spring of A.D. 56 from the city of Ephesus

Purpose: Corrective and constructive counsel on problems and questions that brings out the responsibilities of Saints “in Christ”

Key Verses: 1 Corinthians 1:2, 9

Key Chapters: Mastery: Faith (2); Means: Love (13); Motivation: Hope (15)

Key Phrases: “In Christ” (13 times)

Key Words: Christ (63 times); Spirit (38); Body (43); Brothers (27); Now (26); Spiritual (18); Wisdom (18); Church (18); Love (17); Gift/s (17)

Thematic Themes:
1 Corinthians 1:2 Sanctification —> Called to be Holy/Saints (cf. 1 Cor 6:11)
1 Corinthians 1:9 Unity —> Called into Fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (Union and Communion —> Maturity (cf. 1 Cor 3:1-4)

Primary Themes:
Letter deals with three primary concerns of Christ’s Prayer (John 17:11):
1. In the World; (1 Corinthians 2)
2. In Christ; and (3)
3. In Unity—Spiritual Gifts used in Love (1 Corinthians 1:7 —> Chapters 12-14)

Subordinate Themes:
Six matters submitted for Paul’s judgment and advice on social life and fellowship of the Christian Community—What about:
1. Marriage?
2. Christian Liberty?
3. Church Conduct?
4. Spiritual Gifts?
5. The Resurrection?
6. The Collection?

1. Oral Report, 1 Corinthians 1:11
2. Rumor, 5:1
3. Written Communication, 7:1

The first Six Chapters cover serious problems and the last Ten Chapters answer their questions. Paul employs the 3-D Approach: He presents the DIFFICULTIES and addresses them with DOCTRINES that calls for DECISION.

The Outlines:


First Corinthians lends itself to many outlines:


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