1 Corinthians, Part 1


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Studies in Corinthian Letters:

Studies in Corinthian Letters Friendship Baptist Church Pastor Brian Chilton

Introduction to 1 Corinthians:

Introduction to 1 Corinthians Author: Paul, the apostle. However, Paul used an “amanuensis” for most of his letters. An “amanuensis” is a scribe. Whether this was a preferred practice or whether it was due to Paul’s eyesight, this seemed to be the preferred means of Paul’s letter writing. (See 1 Corinthians 16:21, see also Romans 16:22) Sosthenes was the amanuensis for this letter. Date: We can know a precise time for Paul’s writing. Paul writes this letter after his initial stay in Corinth (53-56). Paul finishes the letter sometime around Easter. It is finished a short time before Pentecost (1 Cor. 16:8). This may also show why Paul expresses the importance of the resurrection of Christ in vivid detail. All of this points to the spring of AD 56. This was the year the letter was written.

Introduction to 1 Corinthians (Continued):

Introduction to 1 Corinthians (Continued) Recipients: The Church of Corinth (see next slide) Themes: Paul handles the following 6 Problems: Problem of Divisions in the Church Problem of Discipline in the Church Problem of Marital Views Problem of Food (Meat Sacrificed to Idols, Do we Eat?) Problem of Disorder in Worship Problem of Resurrection Views

The City of Corinth:

The City of Corinth Corinth was one of the largest cities of the Roman empire just behind Rome and was a major seaport city. It is estimated that over 200,000 free people lived in the greater Corinthian metro area and may have held over a ½ million slaves. Corinth was a multi-cultural place as it was established by Greeks and taken over by Romans. It was the major center of trade, so Jews, Europeans, Asians, and Africans would have traveled through this city. Corinth was the home to the Isthmian Games which was second only to the Olympic Games. In the ancient world, a ‘Corinthian’ is a proud extrovert with a larger-than-life appetite for strong drink, wild parties and easy sex. Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001), 576 .

The Lost Letter to Corinth:

The Lost Letter to Corinth The Issue: It appears that 1 st Corinthians is actually 2 nd Corinthians and 2 nd Corinthians is actually 3 rd Corinthians. The Evidence: 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul writes, “ I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexual immoral people.” Paul addresses a previous letter written to the Corinthian church. The Problem: Although some have speculated that 2 nd Corinthians may have had elements of the very first letter, evidence suggests that the letter is lost to us. The letter may have been short and only directed towards a specific problem whereas the other two letters are more lengthy and theologically important. That may have been the reason that the first letter was not preserved.

Outline for 1st Corinthians (Tyndale NT Commentary):

Outline for 1 st Corinthians (Tyndale NT Commentary) I. Introduction (1:1-9) II. Divisions in the Church (1:10-4:21) III. Moral Laxity in the Church (5-6) IV. Marriage (7) V. Meat Sacrificed to Idols (8:1-11:1) VI. Disorders in Public Worship (11:2-14:40) VII. Resurrection (15) VIII. Conclusion: (16)

Paul’s Introduction: The Believer’s Standing in Grace:

Paul’s Introduction: The Believer’s Standing in Grace 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, (1:1) Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter. Apostle was a position that was like an ambassador. It was one entrusted with the authority of Christ’s message. To be an apostle, one had to have seen Jesus physically and sent forth by Jesus. Of Jesus Christ shows the authority behind his message Will of God shows the direction of his message. Paul was not interested in his own will, but the will of God. Sosthenes is identified as the amanuensis. According to Luke, Sosthenes was a synagogue leader who was converted to Christ. You can read more about Sosthenes in Acts 18:17 as he was beaten for his faith in Christ.

Standing in Grace (cont’d):

Standing in Grace (cont’d) 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1:2) Church of God …the ekklesia , or assembly, speaks to any gathering of people. However, Paul identifies this as an assembly of God. Corinth …Paul identifies the intended audience. Sanctified in Christ Jesus …showed the Corinthian church that although they lived around sinful behavior, they were set apart in Jesus Christ. Called to be Saints Joined with those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord ..part of the Greater Body of Christ. Both theirs and ours …shows the connection of all churches under the banner of Christ. (1:3) Grace… The Greek term for “grace” is “ charis .” We get our word “charity” from this word. This grace speaks of God’s free gift to us…(Morris, 36). Peace… The term in Greek is eirene , but it has connotations with the usual Hebrew greeting “Shalom”. This is more than just peace, but it denotes the blessings of God. From God shows the source of grace and peace. And Jesus Christ shows Christ on equal ground with God the Father. Jesus’ divinity is clearly shown.

Paul’s Thanksgiving:

Paul’s Thanksgiving I Corinthians 1:4-9 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, (1:4) I thank my God begins a long sentence that continues through verse 8. Paul’s main theme is that of thankfulness. Concerning you for the grace of God …Paul was thankful for the work of grace done in the Corinthian church. God must have really transformed many of them. Given by Christ Jesus …The Corinthian church was great not because of their efforts but because of the grace given by Christ Jesus. (1:5) you were enriched in everything… The word “enriched” means “to be made wealthy.” The Corinthians placed a lot of emphasis on wealth and materialism. But the wealth they had was that of spiritual blessings from God. By Him in all utterance… God had transformed the way they spoke. Their mouths were not filled with filth, but right speaking. All knowledge… The Greeks placed a lot of emphasis on knowledge. However, this knowledge was not self-obtained, rather it came from God. (1:6) testimony of Christ… This speaks to the Gospel message shared in the lives of the Corinthians. The Gospel must be passed on. Confirmed in you …The word is similar to that of a guarantee. Everyone could tell that the Corinthians had been transformed. Is a person really a Christian when they claim to call upon the Lord and there is no transformational work in his/her life? I have my doubts.

Introduction: Continued:

Introduction: Continued 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1:7) come short in no gift …Remember, the key them is Paul’s thankfulness to God. The Gospel had been confirmed in them so that they would be equipped to do the work of the Lord. There is an emphasis on spiritual gifts. (charisma) Eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ …this revelation points to the Second Coming of Christ. (1:8) confirm you to the end, …There is a promise that Christ will be with us until the very end. Be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ…. This is literally “free from accusation.” No charge can be given against those who are redeemed in Christ. (1:9) God is faithful …Here Paul begins another great point of Thanksgiving. Paul shows that God is faithful to His children. He never leaves us or forsakes us. Whom you were called... .God called the people to fellowship. It is God’s working in us that leads us to salvation. Into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord …Through Jesus Christ we have fellowship (close mutual association) with God Almighty. He is Lord ( kyrios ) of all.

Divisions Confronting the Church at Corinth:

Divisions Confronting the Church at Corinth 1 st Division: Division from Competing Factions (1:10-17) 2 nd Division: Division from World’s Wisdom and God’s Wisdom (1:18-25) 3 rd Division: Division from Worldly Wisdom Focus (1:26-31) 4 th Division: Division from Lack of Christian Revelation (2) 5 th Division: Division from Carnal State (3:1-8) 6 th Division: Division from Christian Service (3:9-4:7) 7 th Division: Division from Apostolic Example (4:8-21)

Tips on Reading Paul’s Letters:

Tips on Reading Paul’s Letters Be sure to notice where Paul’s sentences begin and end. (Look for commas and periods.) Paul is extremely thorough. Paul will speak on a major point and give supporting points to prove his major point…sometimes this is done within one sentence which can be a chapter long. Look for the major theme and the problem. Paul is writing these letters to either give support, instruct, settle disputes, or all three. It is important to know what was going on in the church. Sometimes, it requires reading between the lines. Don’t get frustrated. Paul was difficult for other early church leaders to understand sometimes. Peter wrote, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Ask Holy Spirit for understanding. As in reading all Scripture, pray for understanding and the Holy Spirit will give it to you.

Next Week: Divisions of Wisdom (1-3):

Next Week: Divisions of Wisdom (1-3) Next week, we will try to finish out the first chapter as we look at 3 of the 7 divisions facing the Corinthian church.

Questions from Study:

Questions from Study Question 1: Who is the amanuensis (scribe) for Paul in this letter? Question 2: To what church was Paul writing? Question 3: What year was 1 st Corinthians completed? Question 4: Who said Paul’s writings were “hard to understand”? Question 5: How many problems does Paul try to solve in this letter? TIE BREAKER: What was the Greek term Paul uses for the word “grace.”

Please Turn in Your Answer Sheets:

Please Turn in Your Answer Sheets Next: The Answers to this week’s questions


Answers Question 1: Who is the amanuensis (scribe) for Paul in this letter? Answer: Sosthenes (1:1) Question 2: To what church was Paul writing? Answer: Church of Corinth (1:2) Question 3: What year was 1 st Corinthians completed? Answer: AD 56 Question 4: Who said Paul’s writings were “hard to understand”? Answer: Simon Peter (2 Peter 3:15-16) Question 5: How many problems does Paul try to solve in this letter? Answer: 6 Problems (Divisions, Church Order, Resurrection, Marriage, Food, and Church Discipline) TIE BREAKER: What was the Greek term Paul uses for the word “grace.” Answer: “ charis ”

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