The book of 1 Corinthians was written in A. D. 57 or 58. Paul
had established this congregation on his second evangelistic tour
(Acts 18:1-18). He wrote to these brethren from Ephesus while on
his third journey (1 Cor. 16:8, 19). There was a great deal of
turmoil and immaturity in this church-more so than in any other
Corinth had been a powerful and influential city during the time
of the Peloponnesian War, in which Sparta became victorious over
Athens (431-404 B. C.) (The southern peninsula of Greece is
called Peloponnesus.) But in 146 B. C. the city was pillaged and
burned by Mummius. One hundred years later (46 B. C.) Julius
Caesar rebuilt the city from its old foundations; he established a
colony of veterans and freedmen there. At the time of Paul's
writing the population of Corinth was 600,000; it was the capital
of Achaia, the southern region of Greece.
Corinth is located on an isthmus, called "the bridge of
the sea." There were three harbors associated with the city:
Lechaeum on the west, Cenchrea on the east, and Schoenus
in the narrowest land connection. There was a canal through
which the smaller ships could be dragged. Rollers and others
devices were used to get the ships through this land channel.
Corinth was on the north-south trade routes and on the
east-west. Why not sail around Cape Malea? Two common
sayings were: "When you round Cape Malea, forget all you
have at home" and "Let himwho sails around Malea first make
his will." Its waters were considered the most treacherous in
the Mediterranean Sea.
Behind Corinth on its south side rose a citadel, a natural
fortification which was nearly impregnable. The hill rises 2,000
feet above the sea. The summit has a circumference of ten miles.
The hill of Athens is visible from there 45 miles to the east.
To the North across the sea lie many mountains, including Mt.
Parnassus, which towers over Delphi. To the West is the Ionian
Jews, Greeks, and some who had been expelled from Rome lived in
this city. There were merchants, soldiers, sailors, retailers,
wrestlers, charioteers, slaves, agents of vice, and parasites of
all sorts. There was a fair amount of wealth in the city, and the
Isthmian games were conducted every two years. The city was known
for its drunkenness and its sensuality. Upon the Acropolis was a
temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She had 1,000 priestesses,
hieroduli, who would descend each evening to walk the streets like
prostitutes. In some Greek plays a Corinthian was stereotyped
as a drunk.
1. Unity in Christ (1:1-17)
2. Preaching, The Wisdom of God (1:18-2:16)
3. The Cause and Solution to Division (3:1-4:21)
4. Fornication and Fellowship (5:1-13, 6:12-20)
5. Lawsuits Before Unbelievers (6:1-11)
6. Questions of Marriage and Divorce (7)
7. Meat Offered to Idols (8-10)
8. Women Praying and Prophesying (11:1-16)
9. Abuse of the Lord's Supper (11:17-34)
10.Proper Use of Spiritual Gifts (12-14)
11.The Significance of the Resurrection (15)
12.Giving and Sundry Matters (16)
KEY SCRIPTURES AND PASSAGES
1:10 "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that
there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly
joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
1:23 "But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling
block and to the Greeks foolishness."
3:1-5 Envy, strife, and division are signs of brethren being
5:11 Do not "keep company with anyone who is called a
6:12 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not
helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be
brought under the power of any."
6:18-20 "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is
outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality
sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your
body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom
you have from God, and you are not your own? For you
were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your
body and in your spirit, which are God's."
9:22 "...I have become all things to all men, that I might by all
means save some."
9:27 "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection,
lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should
10:12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he
10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common
to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation
will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to
10:24 "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-
10:31 "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God."
12:25 "That there should be no schism in the body, but that the
members should have the same care for one another."
13:1-3 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but
have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a
clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and
though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow
all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to
be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."
13:4-7 "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love
does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave
rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing,
endures all things."
13:8-10 "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies,
they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will
cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But
when that which is perfect has come, then that which is
in part shall be done away."
13:11-13 "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood
as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a
man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a
mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part,
but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now
abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest
of these is love."
14:37 "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual,
let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you
are the commandments of the Lord."
14:40 "Let all things be done decently and in order."
15:1-4 "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which
I preached to you, which also you have received and in
which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you
hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you
have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of
all that which I also received: that Christ died for our
sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was
buried, and that He rose again the third day according
to the Scriptures."
15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, inasmuch as you know that your labor is
not in vain in the Lord."
*Send comments or questions concerning this survey to Gary Summers.[New Testament Survey Index]