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                "THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS"

                             Introduction

AUTHOR:  PAUL, the apostle (1:1; 16:21)

PLACE OF WRITING:  EPHESUS (16:8)

TIME OF WRITING:  Probably in the spring of 57 A.D., shortly before
the Jewish feast of Pentecost (16:8), during his third missionary
journey (Ac 19:1-41).

BACKGROUND OF THE CITY OF CORINTH:  Corinth was situated on the
Isthmus of Greece (called Achaia in the Bible) between  the Ionian Sea
and the Aegean Sea, above the Mediterranean Sea. About 50 miles to the
east was the city of Athens.

The Corinth of Paul's day was relatively new.  The old Corinth (which
was famous and powerful in the days of the Peloponnesian War) was
burned in 146 B.C. by the Roman proconsul, L. Mummius.  Because it was
a city devoted to the gods, a hundred years were required to pass
before the city could be rebuilt.  In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt
the city, populated it with a colony of veterans and freedmen, and
named it Julia Corinthus.  It soon became a very important commercial
center.

With a population of 400,000 and being a prominent center of commerce
in the Mediterranean world, it was a place for all sorts of vice.  An
example of its immorality was found in the temple of Venus (Aphrodite),
which hosted 1000 priestesses dedicated to prostitution in the name of
religion.  The city's close proximity to the city of Athens probably
added the problem of intellectualism.  As noticed in the epistle, such
an environment had its effect upon the church in Corinth.  It is
amazing that a church existed at all in such a city.

BACKGROUND OF THE CHURCH AT CORINTH:  The establishment of the church
occurred during Paul's second missionary journey.  It is recorded by
Luke in Ac 18:1-18, which can be divided into three sections:

   1) Abiding with Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tentmakers; reasoning
      in the synagogue every Sabbath (Ac 18:1-6).

   2) In the house of Justus, abiding there and teaching for a year and
      six months (Ac 18:7-11)

   3) An incident before Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (Ac 18:12-18)

It appears from reading the epistle that the church was adversely
affected by the immoral environment found in the city.  Pride caused
division in the church and disruption in the services (1Co 1-4, 11).
Immorality and immodesty found its way into the church, which gave it a
bad reputation (1Co 5).  The brethren were taking their personal
problems with each other before the heathen courts instead of working
them out among themselves (1Co 6).  Other issues affecting the church
included questions about marriage (1Co 7), meats sacrificed to idols
(1Co 8-10), women praying and prophesying with heads uncovered (1Co 
11), the use of spiritual gifts (1Co 12-14), the resurrection from the
dead (1Co 15), and the collection for the saints in Jerusalem (1Co 
16).  Thus the church was one beset with problems and questions that
needed to be answered.

PURPOSE OF WRITING:  The bad news concerning the problems at Corinth
had reached Paul in Ephesus.  It seems that this news came from at
least two sources:  1)  the household of Chloe (1:11); and 2)  a letter
sent to him (7:1), possibly by the hands of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and
Achaicus (16:17).

Therefore, in answer to these reports Paul writes:

          TO CORRECT SINFUL PRACTICES AND REFUTE FALSE DOCTRINE

THEME:  1 Corinthians 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."

BRIEF OUTLINE (adapted from Dextor Sammons)

INTRODUCTION (1:1-9)

I. PROBLEMS REPORTED BY THE HOUSE OF CHLOE (1:10-6:20)

   A. FACTIONS IN THE CHURCH (1:1-4:21)

   B. SEXUAL IMMORALITY (5:1-13)

   C. LAWSUITS AMONG BRETHREN (6:1-11)

   D. MORAL DEFILEMENTS (6:12-20)

II. PROBLEMS MENTIONED IN THE LETTER FROM CORINTH (7:1-16:9)

   A. MARRIAGE & CELIBACY (7:1-40)

   B. EATING MEATS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS (8:1-11:1)

   C. WOMEN PRAYING AND PROPHESYING WITH HEADS UNCOVERED (11:2-16)

   D. THE LORD'S SUPPER (11:17-34)

   E. SPIRITUAL GIFTS (12:1-14:40)

   F. RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD (15:1-58)

   G. COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS (16:1-4)

CONCLUDING REMARKS, INSTRUCTIONS, AND BENEDICTION (16:5-24)

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION

1) On which journey did the apostle Paul establish the church in
   Corinth?
   - His second journey

2) Where do we read of the establishment of the Corinthian church?
   - Ac 18:1-18

3) What two people did Paul first stay with in Corinth?  What did they
   have in common? (Ac 18:1-3)
   - Aquila and Priscilla
   - Tentmakers by trade

4) Which chief ruler of the synagogue was converted? (Ac 18:8)
   - Crispus

5) Approximately how long did Paul stay in Corinth? (Ac 18:11)
   - A year and six months

6) Who did Aquila and Priscilla convert in Ephesus who later went to
   Corinth? (Ac 18:24-19:1)
   - Apollos

7) From where did Paul write this first epistle to Corinth? (16:8)
   - Ephesus

8) What is the approximate date of writing?
   - The spring of 57 A.D.

9) What two things existed in Corinth that appeared to have an adverse
   effect on the church?
   - Intellectualism
   - Immorality

10) What is the purpose of this epistle?
   - To correct sinful practices and refute false doctrine

11) Where is the theme of the epistle stated?
   - 1 Corinthians 1:10
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