Book Overview - 1 Corinthians
by Gary H. Everett
STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
Using a Theme-based Approach
to Identify Literary Structures
By Gary H. Everett
THE EPISTLE OF 1CORINTHIANS
All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.
All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.
All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.
All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.
The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.
Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.
Foundational Theme - The Doctrines of the New Testament Church
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Structural Theme - The Sanctification of the Holy Spirit (His Gifts)
I thank my God always on your behalf,
for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
That in every thing ye are enriched by him,
in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
1 Corinthians 1:4-5
Imperative Theme - We Manifest the Gifts of the Spirit While Walking in Love
But covet earnestly the best gifts:
and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:31
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF 1CORINTHIANS
Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
The Message of the Epistle of 1Corinthians- Of his thirteen epistles, Paul the Apostle writes most extensively to the church of Corinth, writing them two lengthy letters, which emphasized practical conduct rather than doctrine, with several other epistles that did not come down to us. The immediate concern in the church of Corinth was an issue of conduct, and not creed. Perhaps the reason for this is that many of these Gentiles had been saved out of a lifestyle of deep degradation ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), and the pressure to conform to their pagan society was still strong. In fact, some of these believers might have not entirely come out of paganism yet. Their liberality in Christ had swung the pendulum too far to the right so that they were becoming "entangled" in the world, rather than "involved" in the world, and they were missing the message of the crucified life. Thus, the basic theme of Paul's two epistles to the Corinthian church is the sanctification of the believer. With this foundation laid, Paul deals extensively with their conduct in daily living, making 1Corinthians his longest New Testament epistle. Louis Berkhof says that this epistle "contains the doctrine of the cross in its social application." 1] For this reason, the epistle of 1Corinthians gives us the clearest exposure to the daily life of the early Church to be found in the New Testament.
1] Louis Berhkof, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html; Internet, 89.
Introductory Material- The introduction to the epistle of 1Corinthians will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 2] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.
2] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).
"We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture
if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."
(J. Hampton Keathley) 3]
3] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of 1Corinthians will provide a discussion on its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the apostle wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians from Ephesus around A.D 54-55 during his third missionary journey because he had receive reports from members of that church of misconduct and questions regarding church creed.
I. Historical Background
The city of Corinth has the most lengthy and involved historical background issues of any of the cities that Paul addresses in his New Testament epistles.
Its Location- The city of Corinth was one of the most celebrated cities in the ancient Greco-Roman world, being situated near the middle of the strategic isthmus that joined the Peloponnesian peninsula with the mainland of Attica, a narrow piece of land only four miles wide. Its location gave this city control over a busy shipping route between the Ionian Sea to the west and the Aegean Sea to the east. Sailors preferred routing their goods through Corinth by land, and later by a canal, in order to avoid the treacherous two-hundred-mile journey sailing around the Peloponnesian peninsular, which sea route was reputed by Classical writers as the one of the most dangerous cape in the Mediterranean, 4] so much so that at least one saying has been recorded by Strabo, "When you double Maleae forget your home," 5] The coastal area around Corinth had three harbors that were used to transport goods inland and across the narrow isthmus. There was a harbor at Lechaeum, located less than two miles to the west on the Corinthian Gulf, and a harbor at Cenchrea ( Acts 18:18, Romans 16:1), as well as Schoenus lying about eight miles to the east on the Saronic Gulf (Pausanias, Description of Greece 23; Strabo Geography 8622). Perhaps one of the more prominent landscape features on this isthmus was the Acrocorinth, a jugged, abrupt cone of rock that rises up out of the sea nineteen hundred (1,900) feet above sea level, casting its shadow upon this narrow piece of land. Corinth was situated on the northern base of this lofty rock on a small table-land (Strabo Geography 8621). The city spread itself sideways and downwards towards the sea, with roads that terminated at the coastal seaports of Lechaeum and Cenchrea.
4] Herodotus writes, "Jason (it is said) when the Argo had been built at the foot of Pelion, put therein besides a hecatomb a bronze tripod, and set forth to sail round Peloponnesus, that he might come to Delphi. But when in his course he was off Malea, a north wind caught and carried him away to Libya." (Herodotus 4179) See Herodotus, vol 2, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1928), 381; Dionysius of Halicarnassus writes, "But Aristotle, the philosopher, relates that some of the Achaeans, while they were doubling Cape Malea on their return from Troy, were overtaken by a violent storm, and being for some time driven out of their course by the winds…" (Roman Antiquities 1723) See The Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, vol 1, trans. Earnest Cary and Edward Spelman, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1928), 237-239. Pliny the Younger alludes to the dangers of sailing around Cape Malea when he writes, "As I am convinced, Sirach, that the news will be of interest to you, I beg to announce that I have sailed past the promontory of Malea and reached Ephesus, with all my suite, though retarded by contrary winds." (Letters 1015) See John Delaware Lewis, trans, The Letters of Pliny the Younger (London: Trubner and Co, 1879), 336.
5] Strabo writes, "As the Sicilian strait, so formerly these seas were of difficult navigation, and particularly the sea above Maleas, on account of the prevalence of contrary winds; whence the common proverb, ‘When you double Maleae forget your home.' It was a desirable thing for the merchants coming from Asia, and from Italy, to discharge their lading at Corinth without being obliged to double Cape Maleas." (Geography 8620) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 60.
The city of Corinth served as a link between the East and the West because it was located along the main sea route between the East and the West. The larger ships often unloaded their cargo on either side of the Isthmus and transported it across the land. There was also a tramway that was build during Roman times to haul the smaller ships across this five-mile stretch of land to avoid sailing around the peninsula. Shortly after Paul's visit to Corinth, Nero began the task of cutting a canal to connect these two seas, a task that lay unfinished until the cutting of the Corinth Canal in 1893. 6] For this reason, the city of Corinth received shipping from the western countries of Italy, Sicily, and Spain, as well as from the east in Asia Minor, Syria, Phoenicia, and Egypt. Corinth also served the foot traffic from the north in Attica into the Peloponnesian peninsula. Everyone traveling from Athens, fifty-six (56) miles away, or northern Greece and into southern Greece, to towns such as Sparta, had to travel through the city of Corinth. Thus, its strategic location, which was recognized by its ancient Greek and Roman inhabitants, gave it commercial importance as well as a place for military defense throughout its history.
6] Walter Werner, "The largest ship trackway in ancient times: the Diolkos of the Isthmus of Corinth, Greece, and early attempts to build a canal," The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, vol 26, no 2 (1997), pp.98-119 [on-line]; accessed 1July 2010; available from http://www 3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119160326/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0; Internet.
Its History - Ancient - The history of Corinth is well attested to by ancient Greek and Latin writers. There are signs that this area of Greece was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennial B.C, perhaps when it was settled by what were originally the ancestors of Noah. Albert Barnes tells us that the city is said to have been founded around 1500 B.C. by Sisyphus, the son of Eolus, and grandfather of Ulysses, long before the siege of Troy, and was then called Ephyra. 7] He says that it took its name "Corinth" from Corinthus, who was the son of Jupiter, or of Marathon, or of Pelops, depending on the author that is read. This Corinthus is said to have rebuilt and adorned the city in his own name. 8]
7] The Argonautica 41212. See Apollonius Rhodius The Argonautica, trans. R. C. Seaton, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1919), 337.
8] Pausanius writes, "The district of Corinth is part of Argolis, and got its name from Corinthus. That Corinthus was a son of Zeus has never yet, so far as I know, been seriously asserted by anybody except by a majority of the Corinthians themselves." (Description of Greece 211) See Pausanias's Description of Greece, vol 1, trans. J. G. Frazer (London: Macmillan and Co, Limited, 1898), 70; Albert Barnes, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."
Some of the earliest settlers to this land were the Phoenicians, who left behind evidences of their industrial arts, such as dyeing and weaving, as well as in their religion and mythology. For example, the temple of Aphrodite, located on the Acrocorinth above Corinth, 9] is of Phoenician origin, as well as the cults of Melikertes (Melkart) and of Athene Phoenike. However, its history is scarce until about 1200 B.C. when Homer could speak of it as "wealthy Corinth. 10] By 800 B.C. Thucydides tells us it had gained commercial and military importance, largely because of its location. He also tells us that the first triremes, the Greek battleships, were built here in 664 B.C. 11]
9] Strabo writes, "That which is called the Acrocorinthus is a lofty mountain, perpendicular, and about three stadia and a half in height. There is an ascent of 30 stadia, and it terminates in a sharp point. The steepest part is towards the north. Below it lies the city in a plain of the form of a trapezium, at the very foot of the Acrocorinthus…The summit has upon it a small temple of Venus [Aphrodite]…" (Geography 8621) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 61-62.
10] Homer writes, "And they that held Mycenae, the well-built citadel, and wealthy Corinth, and well-built Cleonae, and dwelt in Orneiae and lovely Araethyrea and Sicyon, wherein at the first Adrastus was king." (Iliad 2570) See Homer The Iliad, vol 1, trans. A. T. Murray, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1928), 93.
11] History of the Peloponnesian War 113. See Thucydides, vol 1, trans. Charles Forster Smith, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1956), 25-27.
The Greeks (Old Corinth) - The city of Corinth continued its fame throughout the age of ancient Greek history. However, its importance fluctuated during this period because of continued battles for this region. Albert Barnes describes Corinth as "a territory of Greece, bordered on the east by the gulf of Saron; on the south by the kingdom of Argos; on the west by Sicyon; and on the north by the kingdom of Megaris, and upper part of the isthmus and bay of Corinth, the latter of which is now called the Golfo de Lepanto, or the Gulf of Lepanto." 12] The city of Corinth became the capital of this region. The Greeks of Corinth are said to have built galleys and ships of a new and improved form during this time. This navy was used to protect its commerce. This is the city that gave to the world the classic Corinthian pillar.
12] Albert Barnes, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."
In the fourth century B.C. Corinth was made subject to Philip II of Macedonia and his Song of Solomon, Alexander the Great, who made it the head of a new Hellenic League as he prepared for war with Persia. It appears to have been a wealthy city under the Greeks, as witnessed by the numerous references to it in ancient literature. The city of Corinth was called "the city glorious," (Pindar, Olympian 13) 13] "wealthy Corinth," (Herodotus, 352) 14] and "wealthy Corinth" (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1135). 15] For Strabo Corinth was "large and opulent at all periods" (Geography 8623), 16] providing services for and extracting toll from the streams of merchants that passed through its city daily. Because of its location it was called "the bridge between sea and tireless sea" (Pindar, Nemean 440) 17] and "the gate of the Peloponnesus" (Xenophon Agesilaus 217). 18] W. Harold Mare estimates that it may have had a population of up to 200,000 residents at its peak along with half a million slaves in the area. 19] It was considered the most prosperous of the commercial cities of the ancient Greeks.
13] Pindar in English Prose, trans. Arthur S. Way (London: Macmillan and Co, Limited, 1922), 40.
14] Herodotus, vol 2, trans. A. D. Godly, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1928), 67.
15] See Thucydides, vol 1, trans. Charles Forster Smith, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1956), 27.
16] The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 65.
17] Pindar in English Prose, trans. Arthur S. Way (London: Macmillan and Co, Limited, 1922), 119.
18] Xenophontis Agesilaus, ed. Carolus Gustavus Heiland (Lipsiae: Sumptu Julii Klinkhardti, 1841), 34.
19] W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 10, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction."
The most important cult to the Greeks in this region was the worship of the Corinthian goddess Aphrodite (Venus), originally the Greek goddess of love and beauty, whose temple was located on the Acrocorinth. Strabo tells us that before the destruction of Old Corinth by the Romans in 146 B.C. her shrine was of greater importance than the others and hosted a thousand temple prostitutes, who were considered priestesses for their sacred worship. He says that this temple became popular and wealthy because of its sexual promiscuity (Geography 8620), 20] so much so that Aristophanes (450-385 B.C.) coined the Greek verb "Korinthiazomai," which became a well-known expression that meant, "to live like a Corinthian in the practice of sexual immorality and luxury" (Aristophanes Fragment 354). 21] These temple prostitutes were a source of great wealth to the city, and visitors who partook of this promiscuous form of worship often vowed to bring more to the city. Because of this wickedness a reference to a "Corinthian girl" was known to be a synonym for prostitute. 22] William Barclay says, "Aelian, the late Greek writer, tells us that if ever a Corinthian was shown upon the stage in a Greek play he was shown drunk." (Aelian, Varia Historia 313) 23]
20] The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 60-62.
21] Aristophanes Fragments, vol 5, trans. Jeffery Henderson, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); David K. Lowery, 1 Corinthians, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament Edition, eds. John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck (Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C. Cook, 1983), 505.
22] Plato writes, "Then you also blame a Corinthian girl's being the mistress of men who are going to have good bodies." (Republic 404D) See Plato, The Republic of Plato, second edition, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, c 1968, 1991), 83.
23] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, in The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, c 1954, 2002), 3; Charles Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, eds, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database (Chicago: Moody Press, c 1962), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction: The City of Corinth"; F. W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, vol 1 (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1879), 559.
The Romans (New Corinth) - When Roman eventually came to power, they had to deal with Greece, which had enjoyed its independence for many years, with Corinth being the head of the Achaian League. When Rome did exercise its authority over this league, Corinth attempted to break free by playing a leading role in an organized rebellion. This rebellion moved the Romans, under its general Lucius Mummius Achaicus, to utterly destroy the city of Corinth in 146 B.C. (It was this victory over Corinth and Carthage that positioned Rome as the new world power.) When Mummius razed Corinth to the ground he forbade it to be rebuilt, confiscating its territory for the Roman state. Its inhabitants were either killed or sold into slavery. Its destruction was so complete that only a few columns and temples survived. A testimony to its wealth is seen in the accounts of how this great fire melted together the precious metals to form what was then called "Corinthian brass," which became a valuable commodity (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 343; Florus, Epitome of Roman History 216). 24] However, other writers say that this brass was instead made by the local artists by melting brass with small quantities of gold and silver. This city lay unattended for one hundred years until it found importance again because of it strategic location. It was rebuilt in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar and called by the name Colonia Laus Julia Corinthus (meaning "the colony of Corinth, the praise of Julius"). This "New Corinth" was made a Roman colony at this time and repopulated with Roman veterans and freedmen. 25] (William Barclay says, "When a Roman soldier had served his time, he was granted citizenship and was then sent out to some newly-founded city and given a grant of land so that he might become a settler there. These Roman colonies were planted all over the world," which was Rome's effort to further secure the vast areas under their control.) 26] During the following years this city was build based on the pattern of a Roman city. This is why the Corinthians believers listed in Paul's epistles bear Roman names, such as Gaius, Fortunatus, Justus, Crispus, Quartus, and Achaicus. The region of Greece was later divided into the Roman provinces of Achaia and Macedonia, with the city of Corinth being made the seat of government of Achaia in 27 B.C. Thus, Corinth became a Roman city in its political structure rather than Greek, a city of Roman democracy rather than of Greek aristocracy.
24] Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny, trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1857), 149-151; Sallust, Florus, and Velleius Paterculus, trans. John Selby Watson (London: George Bell and Sons, 1902), 340-341.
25] Pausanias writes, "The old population of Corinth is entirely gone: the present population is a colony planted by the Romans. For this change the Achaean League is answerable. For when Critolaus was appointed general of the League, he stirred up a war with Rome, by persuading the Achaeans and most of the Greek states outside of Peloponnese to revolt; and in this war the Corinthians, as members of the League, took part. When victory had declared for their arms, the Romans disarmed the populations of the other Greek states, and dismantled the walls of the fortified towns. But Corinth was laid utterly waste by the Roman commander Mummius. Afterwards, they say, it was repeopled by Caesar, who instituted at Rome the system of government under which we live. Carthage also, they say, was repeopled in his reign." (Description of Greece 212) See Pausanias's Description of Greece, vol 1, trans. J. G. Frazer (London: Macmillan and Co, Limited, 1898), 70; Geography 8623. See The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 64-65.
26] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, in The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, c 1954, 2002), 4.
The city quickly grew in size as the descendants of the Greek merchants who were formerly driven out returned and as Jews, Orientals and other merchants came to take advantage of its commercial opportunities. Its population soon consisted of sailors, merchants, adventurers, slaves and refugees from all corners of the Roman Empire. These social groups consisted of a mixture of Greeks, Romans, Asians, Jews, Egyptians, Syrians, and others. The religious expressions of Corinth were as diverse as its people. Gordon Fee tells us that Pausanias describes at least twenty-six sacred places that were devoted to their many gods. These people traded, quarreled, worshipped, reveled, and conducted their affairs in a mood of wealth and prosperity unlike any other city in the Empire. 27]
27] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), 3.
Its Political Importance- During the New Testament period Corinth served as the capital of the Roman province of Achaia as well as the residence of the Roman Proverbs -consul. Its importance within the Roman Empire was exceeded only by Rome, Alexandria, and Ephesus. It was the most affluent city of Greece.
Its Commerce- The Romans were an industrious people, which contributed to the rebuilding Corinth's commercial importance. They constructed a sort of shipway on which smaller vessels were dragged across the narrow bridge of land between the Corinthian and Sardonic Gulfs. It was the Roman Emperor Nero who first attempted to dig a canal across this narrow stretch of land. This was a time of prosperity for Corinth as it again became the center of sea trade. It also became developed in other industries, such as its famed pottery and Corinthian brass (a mixture of gold, silver, and copper), which was traded throughout the ancient world (Ovid, Metamorphoses 6416). 28] Its wealthiest class was not Roman aristocrats or nobility, or manufacturers, but rather the shrew merchants that took advantage of their position along this busy trade route.
28] Ovid writes, "…fertile Orchonienos and Corinth, famed for works of bronze…" (Metamorphoses 6416) See Ovid Metamorphoses, vol 1, trans. Justus Miller, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1951), 317.
Its Culture - Although surpassed in culture by Athens, Corinth also served as cultural center. It was famed for its athletics and temple worship. A small town named Isthmia, located seven miles east of Corinth, hosted the Isthmian Games every two or three years. Located in this town was the temple of Poseidon, the sea god, who was honored at this event. Corinth presided over these games and all of the Greek city-states participated. Albert Barnes tells us that these games consisted of events such as leaping, running, throwing the quoit, or dart, boxing, and wrestling. He believes that there were also contests for poetry and music; and the conquerors in any of these exercises were usually crowned either with pine leaves or with parsley. 29] From some of these events we can see Paul making illusions in his epistles to the Corinthians. Strabo reveals that these games became an important part of Greek culture. These Isthmian festivals became a great source of income for the city, and were famous second only to the Olympian Games. Sports were not the only interest of its inhabitants. Strabo also tells us that Corinth became the chief city of the arts, of painting and sculpture (Geography 8622). 30] However, this city seemed to lack in the field of literature, for among the great Greek writers no Corinthians are found; however, this city did produce some statesmen (Geography 8623), 31] such as Periander, Phidon and Timoleon. 32]
29] Albert Barnes, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."
30] Strabo writes, "Upon the Isthmus is the temple of the Isthmian Neptune, shaded above with a grove of pine trees, where the Corinthians celebrated the Isthmian games." (Geography 8622) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 63.
31] Strabo writes, "The city of Corinth was large and opulent at all periods, and produced a great number of statesmen and artists." (Geography 8623) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 65.
32] J. E. Harris, "Corinth," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).
Its Temple Worship and Immorality- With this new-found prosperity the old reputation for sexual laxity returned to the people of Corinth. Many ancient cities were dedicated to gods or goddesses, whose people believed that they received the watchful care of their patron god. As Athens was dedicated to Minerva, and Ephesus to Diana, so was Corinth dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love. The temple of Venus was located on the northern slope of the Acrocorinth, a mountain about a half mile in height and covered with temples and houses. The temple of Aphrodite (her Roman name was now Venus) was again Revelation -staffed by hundreds of female slaves who were dedicated to her worship. Archaeologists have recovered some of their flutes which they used various forms of entertainment.
The city's public immorality that carried over from Corinth's Greek era brought with it the old Greek proverb of the seafaring men, "It is not given to everyone to visit Corinth." Its taverns were well-known for promoting drunkenness. In other words, New Corinth soon became well-known again for its depravity, debauchery, and immorality.
Archaeology - Until recently, the ruins of Corinth had been lost in the course of time and a fishing village was built over this location. An earthquake in 1928 uncovered its ancient ruins and today much of this site has been excavated. Archeologists have identified a number of structures in the ancient ruins of Corinth. The only structure that testifies to the Old Corinth, which dates prior to 146 B.C, is a set of columns from a temple dedicated to Apollo; however, the Roman city of New Corinth has a number of ancient structures represented.
1. Temples- Corinth was a city of many temples and shrines, the temple of Aphrodite (its Roman name was Venus), located on the Acrocorinth being chief. The temple of Apollo was another important one besides that of Aphrodite. Anyone visiting the site of Corinth today will marvel at the seven columns of the temple of Apollo, dated from the sixth century B.C, that still stand today. 33] This is the only thing that remains of the Old Corinth. This ancient city also built a temple to Asclepius, the popular god of healing. 34] Among the ruins have been found terra-cotta replicas body parts which served as offerings of those who were showing gratitude for their healing by him. 35] There stood also at the foot of this citadel the temple of Melicertes, the patron of seafarers. The name of this god was a Hellenized form of Melkart, once the chief deity of Tyre. 36] Finally, the sea-god Poseidon was celebrated every two years at the Isthmian Games. 37]
33] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Corinth."
34] W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 10, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction."
35] Carlos Parada and Maicar Frlag, "Asclepius," (1997) [on-line]; accessed 1July 2010; available from http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Asclepius.html; Internet.
36] W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 10, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), comments on Acts 18:1.
37] F. F. Bruce, Paul Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1977, 2000), 249.
2. A Marketplace- There can be found today the ruins of an ornamented gateway that leads to a marketplace where many shops were once located. The south side of this market was lined with taverns equipped with underground cisterns that were used to keep the drinks cool. Many drinking vessels have been found in these cisterns bearing the names of "health," "security," "love," as well as the names of some of their gods. 38] In the center of this large area (600 ft. long and 300 ft. wide) has been found the judicial bench or tribunal platform of the city. There speakers would address the crowds that had gathered in the market center. On either side were built rooms where cases were heard by the judicial magistrates. 39] We read in Acts 18:12-17 how the infuriated Jews drug Paul before this very platform and condemned him before Gallio, the proconsul of the city at that time.
38] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 263.
39] W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 10, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction."
3. Theatres- Archeologists have discovered two ancient theatres in Corinth, one outdoor seating up to twenty thousand people, used for the gladiatorial games and contests with wild beasts, and an indoor theatre that held about three thousand people, which was used for music and plays. 40]
40] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 263.
4. A Synagogue- We know that there was a Jewish synagogue, because of the discovery of an inscription identifying such. This inscription reads ‘[Syn]agogue of the Hebr[ews]' (… αγωγη εβρ…). Although its style of lettering indicates that it is of a later date, 41] this inscribed lintel very possibly stood at the place of the synagogue in Paul's time. 42]
41] W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 10, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction."
42] Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 40, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), "Introduction."
5. An Inscription Referring to Erastus- In addition, Robert Gundry tells us that a first century inscription was discovered in Corinth reading, "Erastus, the commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense." He acknowledges to that a commissioner is not the same as city treasurer, they could be "roughly Synonymous." Therefore, it is possible that the Erastus of Acts 19:22 is the same individual of the Song of Solomon -called "Erastus inscription" found at Corinth. 43] In addition, Erastus is mentioned two other times in the New Testament, where he is associated with Macedonia and Corinth. Thus, he is considered by scholars as the chamberlain of the city of Corinth.
43] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 278.
Corinth In the Time of Paul- Into such a populated, wealthy, and immoral, city Paul entered around A.D 50. We have an account of Paul's first visit to Corinth in Acts 18:1-18 and 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 as well as important historical date leading up to Paul's visit there in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 3:10. In Acts 18:12-16 Luke speaks of a man named Gallio, who was proconsul in that city during the time of Paul. In dating Gallio's term of office, we can refer to an ancient inscription discovered at Delphi in central Greece which dates a proclamation of Roman Emperor Claudius sometime early in A.D 52. This same inscription makes mention of a Gallio, who was proconsul of Asia at the time. Scholars suggest from this inscription that Gallio took office in the summer of A.D 51. Some scholars date Paul's arrival in Corinth as early as late A.D 49 or early A.D 50, and note that he spent about eighteen months there. Therefore, some scholars date Paul's tribunal before Gallio in A.D 50 or 51. Other scholars date Paul's stay in Corinth as late as A.D 57.
Having just left an unsuccessful effort to evangelize the Athenians, Paul most likely traveled about five hours by boat and anchored in the Saronic Bay under the piney woods and green, rolling hills of the port of Cenchreas; for the walk across land from Athens to the city of Corinth would have long and tiring. He would have disembarked and rested for the night, then the next day taken the eight-mile walk along the valley of Hexamili before coming to Corinth. While awaiting the arrival of Silas and Timothy, Paul studied the city and would have quickly come to see its strategic influence in the region as he chose to plant a church there. With the Jews having scattered throughout almost every city of the Empire, many of them working as merchants and tradesmen, Paul soon met a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who were also tent makers by trade. They had of recent been driven out of Rome by the degree of Claudius ( Acts 16:9-10), along with many other Jews, and had made their way to Corinth, perhaps because of its potential for business. With them Paul abode and worked for eighteen months without molestation. Besides Jews there were also many Greeks living there, being attracted by the renowned Isthmian games and imposing their own superstitions and heathen forms of worship throughout the city. The Romans also inhabited the city as men of authority and of pleasure. There were the multitudes of slaves from all regions of the Empire, labouring for their masters and longing for freedom. With such diversity of culture, one commentator describes Corinth as the Roman Empire reduced to a single state. Its commerce of trade would have sent any message proclaimed in the city literally throughout the Empire. It was a busy city with just the environment that Paul the apostle was looking for to plant his seeds of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Into such a mass of people Paul entered, confronting Romans,, Exodus -soldiers, Greeks, slaves, Jews, merchants, seamen, temple prostitutes, and a sea of immorality. To this mass of people Paul chose to know nothing more than the simplicity of the Cross of Christ. Just as God chose to pour out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem where Jews from across the Empire had gathered, so did God lead Paul to evangelize the most diverse group of people of the Roman Empire. For from such a diverse people the Gospel was sure to spread back home to each of these people groups. Whether from conversions and good intent, or by gossip and ill intent, the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would carry the same convicting power to transform the lives of those who heard.
As was his custom, Paul began speaking in the synagogue to the Jews and reasoning with them about Jesus Christ. But at some point the members of the synagogue rose up against Paul and his companions, Silas and Timothy, who had come from Macedonia, at which time Paul shook his garments and declared that from henceforth he would preach only to the Gentiles ( Acts 18:6). With a few Jewish followers as well as Gentile converts, Paul turned his focus to the Greeks and Romans of this city, as well as any others who would hear him. Beginning with his earliest converts, some of which we know by name to be Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas, as well as Aquila and Priscilla, Paul formed a small congregation of followers that met in the house of Justus. To these faithful believers Paul preached the "Cross of Christ," not in the excellency of speech or Wisdom of Solomon, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that Isaiah, with the charismatic gifts of the Spirit in operation ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-4). We know that "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" followed Paul in receiving his message, but rather those whom God had chosen ( 1 Corinthians 1:26). It was also at this time that Paul most likely wrote his first and second epistles to the church at Thessalonica.
Paul continued his labours as a tent maker while in Corinth. During his ministry there the brethren of Macedonia sent financial aid ( 2 Corinthians 11:9, Philippians 4:15). After eighteen months of evangelistic work, and a growing congregation, with other churches planted in the region of Achaia ( 2 Corinthians 1:1, Romans 16:1), for Luke records that he had many converts ( Acts 18:8), the Jews brought him before Gallio with charges that the consul turned down. After some time Paul made the decision to return back to his home church of Antioch in Syria, taking with him Aquila and Priscilla. We also note that he shaved his head, having made a vow just before departing this region. His journey back took him through Ephesus, where he reasoned with the Jews before departing and leaving behind Aquila and Priscilla. He made his haste back home in order to attend the Jewish Passover at Jerusalem and reporting to his church at Antioch. Many scholars date this departure in the fall of A.D 51. Since Paul was trying to arrive in Jerusalem for Pentecost, he may have departed Corinth in early A.D 52.
It was not long before Paul returned into Asia Minor to strengthen the churches he had planted there. It is on this third missionary journey that Paul settled down for about three years in the strategic city of Ephesus and evangelized the entire region from his base in that city ( Acts 19). Some scholars date Paul's ministry in Ephesus from the fall of A.D 52to the spring of A.D 55 .It was from here that scholars believe Paul wrote his "previous" epistle to the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 5:9), which appears to have been misunderstood ( 1 Corinthians 5:10-11). The document is now lost, a letter of which we can only speculate as to its content. Because 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1 seems related to this theme and intrudes itself rather awkwardly into the text of 2Corinthians, some scholars speculate that this is part of that first letter. While still in Ephesus, Paul received a report from the household of Chloe about divisions within the church at Corinth. About this time he also received a delegate from the church in Corinth with questions and reports on the situation there. Some scholars date these visits towards the end of Paul's stay in Ephesus (early A.D 55), but others date it in the midst of this 3-year period (early A.D 54) in order to give Paul time to make his "painful visit" and returning to Ephesus before his final departure from this city.
The coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus ( 1 Corinthians 16:17) brought good news, an offering to Paul and his companions, some unsettling news of additional misconduct, as well as a list of questions ( 1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:12). It was this meeting that compelled Paul to write the epistle known as 1Corinthians. Sometime afterwards Paul goes himself to visit the Corinthians in what is called the "painful visit" ( 2 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1), of which we have no record in the book of Acts. This visit may have been prompted because of the church's poor response to his letters that were sent by the hand of Timothy ( 1 Corinthians 4:8-13, 1 Corinthians 16:10), or by a rebellious church faction opposing Paul's authority. After his return to Ephesus from this "painful visit" Paul wrote his third letter to them, which scholars call the "sorrowful letter" ( 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8-9), which may have been carried to them by Titus ( 2 Corinthians 12:18, see also 1 Corinthians 2:12-13). It becomes evident from 2 Corinthians 2:1 that Paul's "painful visit" to them left him disappointed; for he states here that he "determined this with himself, that he would not come again to them in heaviness." After leaving Ephesus and traveling to Troas and preaching the Gospel, Paul becomes restless in his spirit because he has not yet heard from Titus, who had been sent to Corinth. He then hurries on to Macedonia where he meets Titus ( 2 Corinthians 2:5 ff; 2 Corinthians 7:5-13). Evidently, Titus brought to Paul a good report; for it was at this time that Paul wrote his fourth letter, which we call 2Corinthians, in which he responses in gratitude to their obedience and rejoices in this reconciliation 2Corinthians is sent to prepare the church for an additional visit by Paul; for we have evidence in Acts 20:2-3 and 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1-2 that Paul later visited this church a third and last time. It is during this visit to Corinth that he most likely wrote his epistle to the Romans before departing for Jerusalem. He spent the winter in Corinth before proceeding by way of Macedonia to Jerusalem with the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem ( 1 Corinthians 16:6). Thus, scholars believe that Paul made at least three visits and wrote four letters to the Corinthians.
The Church of Corinth After the Time of Paul- We have a fleeting reference to the church at Corinth in 2 Timothy 4:20 after Paul's first imprisonment where Paul informs Timothy that Erastus was left there, perhaps because of his position of authority over the church and his civil influence in the community. We also have an epistle written to the church of Corinth by one of Paul's fellow labourers named Clement, who became bishop of Rome, writing to them around A.D 95. 44] In this epistle Clement commends their conduct and virtues as was being testified by those who visited this church. However, their tendency towards divisions and factions was still a problem that Clement had to address. Later in A.D 170 the church's bishop named of Primus received a visit from Hegesippus, who commended them for their faithfulness to the truth. 45] Their next bishop was named Dionysius, who seems to have brought out the best in them as they gave generously to the impoverished believers in other churches. 46] He notes in his writing that the church of Corinth occasionally read the epistle of Clement on the Lord's Day. 47]
44] See Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (ANF 1).
45] Hegesippus writes, "And the church of the Corinthians continued in the orthodox faith up to the time when Primus was bishop in Corinth. I had some intercourse with these brethren on my voyage to Rome, when I spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were mutually refreshed by the orthodox faith." (Hegesippus in ANF 8) Eusebius cites Hegesippus, saying, "His word are as follows: ‘And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine.'" (Ecclesiastical History 4222)
46] Eusebius writes, "And first we must speak of Dionysius, who was appointed bishop of the church in Corinth, and communicated freely of his inspired labors not only to his own people, but also to those in foreign lands, and rendered the greatest service to all in the catholic epistles which he wrote to the churches." (Ecclesiastical History 4231)
47] Dionysius writes, "We passed this holy Lord's day, in which we read your letter, from the constant reading of which we shall be able to draw admonition, even as from the reading of the former one you sent us written through Clement." (Dionysius 2in ANF 8)
2 Timothy 4:20, "Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick."
When the Roman Empire fell, the city of Corinth became a part of the eastern empire. It was held by the Venetians until 1715, at which time this area was conquered by the Turks during the Ottoman-Venetian War (1714-1718), 48] and it remained under their control until the recent revolution in Greece.
48] George Finlay, The History of Greece Under Othoman and Venetian Domination (London: Willliam Blackwood and Sons, 1856), 265-268.
II. Authorship and Canonicity
In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of 1Corinthians: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1st and 2nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4th century).
A. Apostolic Authority- Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which "the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice." He says the "elements of the Catholic faith" were established during this period in Church history. 49] At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew,, John, Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke, the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude, the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book's apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.
49] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, "The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time." (Fragments of Caius 33) (ANF 5); Corey Keating says, "In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority' was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing." See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet.
The fact that Paul declares himself the author of the epistle of I Corinthians, along with its internal characteristics that are distinctly Pauline, with its historical illusions that coincide with the book of Acts and other Pauline epistles, and with the fact that all of the church fathers universally accepted this epistle as genuine together make a case for Pauline authorship that no one has been able to tear down in the last two thousand years. Thus, internal and external evidence gives strong support to Pauline authorship for 1Corinthians.
1. Internal Evidence- Internal evidence overwhelmingly supports Pauline authorship of the first epistle to the Corinthians. There are three traditional arguments for its authenticity to be found within its internal evidence: its declaration, its style, and its theology.
a) The Author Reveals His Identity- The author's identity is clearly identified within the first epistle to the Corinthians.
i) His Name is Paul- The opening salutation and closing passage as wells as a number of verses within the body of the epistle declare Pauline authorship.
1 Corinthians 1:1, "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,"
1 Corinthians 1:12-13, "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
1 Corinthians 3:4-5, "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?"
1 Corinthians 3:22, "Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;"
1 Corinthians 16:21, "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand."
The salutation is typical of Paul who introduces his name in every one of his New Testament epistles and ascribes his apostolic authority over them in most of them ( Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1).
ii) His Indirect Identity - The first epistle to the Corinthians is full of first person statements that indirectly identify the author as Paul. The author claims apostolic authority, of which few people in the New Testament could claim ( 1 Corinthians 1:1). He worked with Sosthenes in the mission field ( 1 Corinthians 1:1). He speaks with authority over the Corinthians throughout this epistle. For example, the household of Cloe reported church divisions to the author as one who had authority over this church ( 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 10:18), while others reported sexual immorality to him ( 1 Corinthians 5:1). He judges the sin of sexual immorality in their church because of his authority over them ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). The author baptized some church members ( 1 Corinthians 1:14-17). He was a preacher of the Cross of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:23), declaring to them the Gospel of Christ Jesus in demonstration of the Spirit and of power ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-5), which are the signs of an apostle. The author continued his ministry to this church as one having authority over it ( 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). He initially planted the Gospel among them ( 1 Corinthians 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:10) and considers himself the one who begot them through the Gospel ( 1 Corinthians 4:15), and he associates himself with Apollos in building the church at Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 16:12). He calls himself an apostle ( 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:9) and has suffered the afflictions of an apostle ( 1 Corinthians 4:10-13). He is served by Timothy ( 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10). He has a widespread ministry, traveling and teaches in many other churches ( 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:5-8; 1 Corinthians 16:19). He speaks to the Corinthians with authority about disciplinary actions towards them ( 1 Corinthians 4:19-21). He was unmarried ( 1 Corinthians 7:7). He has worked alongside Barnabas ( 1 Corinthians 9:6). He was conversant with the Mosaic Law and other Old Testament Scriptures ( 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Corinthians 14:21; 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 15:27; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; 1 Corinthians 15:54-55) and with Jewish customs ( 1 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 10:18) and with Jewish history ( 1 Corinthians 10:1-11). He makes references to his Jewish heritage ( 1 Corinthians 9:20; 1 Corinthians 10:1). He had had direct encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 15:8). He operated in the gifts of utterance ( 1 Corinthians 14:18). He persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ before his conversion ( 1 Corinthians 15:9). He excelled in the Christian faith ( 1 Corinthians 15:10). He took up a collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem ( 1 Corinthians 16:4). He was a friend of Aquila and Priscilla ( 1 Corinthians 16:19).
All of these indirect references fit the profile of Paul's life and ministry as we know it from the book of Acts and the other Pauline epistles. In fact, there is nothing in 1Corinthians that contradicts what we know about Paul historically.
b) Its Style and Structure is Pauline- The style of 1Corinthians appeals to Pauline authorship.
i) The salutation, thanksgiving, doctrinal exposition, application of that doctrine, closing remarks and benediction are all typical of the other Pauline epistles.
ii) As mentioned above, he often uses the first person singular throughout his letters with many personal references to events that he shares in common with the recipients of his epistles.
iii) The Pauline epistles have the characteristic parenthetical digressions. This is where Paul is discussing a thought and elaborates on a particular word or idea before returning back to the main thought.
iv) There are many words and phrases that are clearly Pauline in the book of 1Corinthians. For example, he refers to the "mysteries of God" ( 1 Corinthians 4:1). There are enough vocabulary words and phrases within this epistle to mark it as distinctly Pauline.
v) This epistle contains the distinctive citations from the Old Testament as well as marks of adaptations of Old Testament language.
We can therefore conclude that the epistle of 1Corinthians has a distinct Pauline style and structure when comparing it to non-Pauline epistles of this period in history.
c) Its Doctrinal Themes are Pauline- The doctrinal positions taught within the epistle of 1Corinthians are clearly Pauline with its characteristic emphasis upon justification by faith and the theology of the Cross. Although it contains some unique insights into the doctrines of the Church, there are sufficient references common to other epistles to distinguish it from the other New Testament writers. Thus, the logic, the thoughts, the theology, the history, the Jewish flavor, and the concepts found within the epistle of 1Corinthians are Pauline through and through.
2. External Evidence - The Church fathers were in universal agreement as to the Pauline authorship of the thirteen epistles New Testament epistles authored under his name. Thus, external evidence supports Pauline authorship of the book of Romans without exception.
It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to Pauline authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2Peter, 2,3John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing's apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.
B. Church Orthodoxy- The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, "To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment." 50] The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church's Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth. 51] This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.
50] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 12.
51] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 331.
1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy- External evidence strongly supports Pauline authorship of the epistle of 1Corinthians. Ancient testimony from the early Church fathers favors Pauline authorship of 1Corinthians. The early Church fathers make direct statements declaring Pauline authorship, as well as direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. Testimony of the epistle of first Corinthians is found in the earliest writings of the Church fathers. For this reason, before A.D 200 it was known as far as away as Carthage, Egypt and Gaul. Scholars tell us that the writers of The Epistle of Barnabas and The Didache were familiar with it. Others, such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, and Gregory Nazianzen show traces of the epistle of 1Corinthians within their writings either as allusions or as direct references. By the end of the second century it was well attested to by the early Church fathers, as were all of the Pauline epistles. It was not until the eighteenth century that its authorship was brought into question by a liberal school of scholars. Thus, the epistle of 1Corinthians was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.
Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of 1Corinthians. 52]
52] There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).
a) Clement of Rome (about A.D 96) - Perhaps the earliest reference to the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians was made by Clement of Rome, wrote to this same church at Corinth about A.D 96. In this epistle, he makes clear references to Pauline authorship, as well as the issue of church schisms that Paul dealt with in this church.
"Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you." (1Clement 47)
b) The Epistle of Barnabas (A.D 70 to 100) - The Epistle of Barnabas has been ascribed by Clement of Alexandria to the apostle Barnabas, 53] who is referred in the book of Acts as an early co-worker on Paul's first missionary journey. However, many scholars believe that the author was a Christian of Alexandria who wrote between A.D 70,100. 54] The Epistle of Barnabas tells us that the believer's body is the spiritual temple of the house of God, which alludes to Paul's teachings on this topic in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. (The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations 16) (ANF 7).
53] Clement of Alexandria was the first to ascribe this epistle to the apostle Barnabas. He writes, "Rightly, therefore, the Apostle Barnabas says, ‘From the portion I have received I have done my diligence to send by little and little to you; that along with your faith you may also have perfect knowledge. Fear and patience are then helpers of your faith; and our allies are long-suffering and temperance. These, then,' he says, ‘in what respects the Lord, continuing in purity, there rejoice along with them, Wisdom of Solomon, understanding, intelligence, knowledge.'" (Stromata 26) and, "And Barnabas the apostle having said, ‘Woe to those who are wise in their own conceits, clever in their own eyes,' added, ‘Let us become spiritual, a perfect temple to God; let us, as far as in us lies, practise the fear of God, and strive to keep His commands, that we may rejoice in His judgments.'" (Stromata 27)
54] The Epistle of Barnabas, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D 325, vol 1: The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, American ed, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, Grand Rapids; Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997, electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2009), "Introduction."
c) Ignatius of Antioch (A.D 35 to 107) - Ignatius of Antioch quotes from 1 Corinthians 11:1 in his epistle to the Ephesians.
"Wherefore it behoves us also to live according to the will of God in Christ, and to imitate Him as Paul did. For, says Hebrews, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 3)
d) The Didache (A.D 80 to 100) - The Didache, or The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, was a short early Christian manual on morals and Church practice. The Gospel of Matthew is used extensively throughout the sixteen chapters of this ancient manual, particularly from the Sermon on the Mount (See The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations) (ANF 7). There is a possible allusion to the epistle of 1Corinthians when The Didache discusses the topic of the Lord's Supper, which alludes to Paul's discussion on this same topic in 1 Corinthians 11:1-33 (The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations 10) (ANF 7).
e) Polycarp (A.D 69 to 155) - Polycarp clearly quotes from and alludes to the epistle of 1Corinthians.
"But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also…" (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 2)
1 Corinthians 6:14, "And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."
"…and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God…" (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 5)
1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
"If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord? ‘Do we not know that the saints shall judge the world?' as Paul teaches." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 11)
1 Corinthians 6:2, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?"
"For by so acting ye shall edify yourselves." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 11)
1 Corinthians 12:26, "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."
f) Justin Martyr (A.D 100-65) - Justin Martyr makes a number of weak allusions to the epistle of 1Corinthians.
"For the passover was Christ, who was afterwards sacrificed." (Dialogue of Justin 111)
1 Corinthians 5:7, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:"
"And, ‘There shall be schisms and heresies.'" (Dialogue of Justin 35)
1 Corinthians 11:18-19, "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."
"For one receives the spirit of understanding, another of counsel, another of strength, another of healing, another of foreknowledge, another of teaching, and another of the fear of God." (Dialogue of Justin 39)
1 Corinthians 12:8-10, "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:"
"…who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it…" (Dialogue of Justin 80)
1 Corinthians 15:12, "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"
g) The Shepherd of Hermas (2nd century) - The Shepherd of Hermas makes a number of weak allusions to the epistle of 1Corinthians.
"Wherefore if any one persists in such deeds, and repents not, withdraw from him, and cease to live with him otherwise you are a sharer in his sin. Therefore has the injunction been laid on you, that you should remain by yourselves, both man and woman, for in such persons repentance can take place." (Commandments 41)
1 Corinthians 7:11, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife."
"For if you be patient, the Holy Spirit that dwells in you will be pure." (Commandments 51)
1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
"If you defile your flesh, you will also defile the Holy Spirit; and if you defile your flesh [and spirit], you will not live." (Similitudes 57)
1 Corinthians 3:17, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
h) Athenagoras (2nd century) - Athenagoras, the Athenian, quotes from 1 Corinthians 15:32; 1 Corinthians 15:54.
"…whilst, on the contrary, those who have manifestly lived an exemplary life in respect of every virtue, live in pain, in insult, in calumny and outrage, and suffering of all kinds) or after death (for both together no longer exist, the soul being separated from the body, and the body itself being resolved again into the materials out of which it was composed, and no longer retaining anything of its former structure or form, much less the remembrance of its actions): the result of all this is very plain to every one,--namely, that, in the language of the apostle, "this corruptible (and dissoluble) must put on incorruption," in order that those who were dead, having been made alive by the resurrection, and the parts that were separated and entirely dissolved having been again united, each one may, in accordance with justice, receive what he has done by the body, whether it be good or bad." (On the Resurrection of the Dead 18) (ANF 2)
1 Corinthians 15:54, "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
"For if no judgment whatever were to be passed on the actions of men, men would have no advantage over the irrational creatures, but rather would fare worse than these do, inasmuch as they keep in subjection their passions, and concern themselves about piety, and righteousness, and the other virtues; and a life after the manner of brutes would be the best, virtue would be absurd, the threat of judgment a matter for broad laughter, indulgence in every kind of pleasure the highest good, and the common resolve of all these and their one law would be that maxim, so dear to the intemperate and lewd, ‘Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.' For the termination of such a life is not even pleasure, as some suppose, but utter insensibility." (On the Resurrection of the Dead 19) (ANF 2)
1 Corinthians 15:32, "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die."
i) Irenaeus (A.D 130 to 200) - Irenaeus quotes from 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; 1 Corinthians 5:11.
"But this also, [as the presbyter states,] has Paul declared most plainly in the Epistle to the Corinthians, when he says, ‘Brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and were all baptized unto Moses in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. These things were for our example (in figuram nostri), to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted; neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them also did, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. But all these things happened to them in a figure, and were written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the world (saeculorum) is come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.'" (Against Heresies 4273)
"And we have the precept: ‘If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one no not to eat.'" (Against Heresies 4274)
j) Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150 to 215) - Clement of Alexandria quotes from 1 Corinthians 13:11 and acknowledges Pauline authorship.
"With the greatest clearness the blessed Paul has solved for us this question in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, writing thus: ‘Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men.' And the expression, ‘When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child,' points out his mode of life according to the law, according to which, thinking childish things, he persecuted, and speaking childish things he blasphemed the Word, not as having yet attained to the simplicity of childhood, but as being in its folly; for the word has two meanings. ‘When I became a Prayer of Manasseh,' again Paul says, ‘I put away childish things.'" (The Instructor 16)
He then quotes from 1 Corinthians 6:15.
"Nor," as Paul says, "is it meet to make the members of Christ the members of an harlot; nor must the temple of God be made the temple of base affections." (The Instructor 210)
k) Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) - Tertullian confirms Pauline authorship of 1Corinthians.
"Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, sets his mark on certain who denied and doubted the resurrection." (The Prescription Against Heresies 33)
In addition, Tertullian makes a number of references to 1,2Corinthians in his writing Against Marcion 511-12.
l) Cyprian of Carthage (d 258) - Cyprian of Carthage quotes from the epistle of 1Corinthians.
Nathaniel Lardner gives the following translation: "In the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians; ‘Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud.' Likewise in the second epistle to the Corinthians; Their minds are blinded unto this day." (Testimonies Against the Jews 14) (PL 4cols 709D-710A) 55]
55] See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 3 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 36.
1 Corinthians 10:1, "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;"
m) Gregory Nazianzen (A.D 329 to 389) - Gregory Nazianzen, one of the Cappadocian fathers, supported Pauline authorship and quotes 1 Corinthians 12:29.
"Let Paul reprove you with those bitter reproaches, in which, after his list of the Gifts of Grace, he says, Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? etc." (Orations 278)
2. Manuscript Evidence - Paul's epistles are found in numerous early Greek manuscripts. One of the earliest manuscripts, the Chester Beatty codex (p 46), which was probably written in Egypt near the end of the second century, contains eight Pauline epistles ( Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians,, Galatians,, Ephesians,, Philippians,, Colossians, 1Thess) and the epistle of Hebrews. 56] It probably contained the entire Pauline corpus in its original collection. There are a number of third century manuscripts that contain portions of the Pauline corpus, and a number of fourth century manuscripts that originally contained the entire New Testament (Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus). These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of Pauline epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.
56] Philip W. Comfort, and David P. Barrett, eds, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, c 1999, 2001), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "P 46 (P. Chester Beatty II + P. Mich. Inv 6238)."
3. Early Versions- The earliest translations of the New Testament, written when the canon was being formed, included the Pauline epistles; 57] the Old Latin (2nd to 4th c), the Coptic (3rd to 4th c), the Peshitta (4th c), the Armenian (5th c), the Georgian (5th c), and the Ethiopic (6th c). 58] The Pauline epistles would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.
57] Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Oxford: University Press, 1968), 69-86.
58] The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts, Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis ( Acts, Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome's Vulgate (beginning A. D 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c 1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.
C. Catholicity- The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, "The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church." 59] This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.
59] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 12.
1. Early Church Canons - The thirteen Pauline epistles are found within the earliest Church canons and versions. Thus, they support the epistle of 1Corinthians as a part of the body of Pauline epistles. It is listed in the two earliest canons. Tertullian (A.D 160-225) tells us that Marcion the heretic accepted it in his Instrumentum (A.D 140), 60] and it is found in The Muratorian Canon as one of Paul's thirteen New Testament epistles (A.D 180) (Fragments of Caius 3: Canon Muratorianus 2) (ANF 5). It is found in every canonical list thereafter. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) includes them in his list of "acknowledged books." 61] Athanasius gives us a canonical list includes them (c 367). 62] Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D 315-386) includes them in his list. 63]
60] See Against Marcion 517.
61] See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 331-7; 324-25.
62] Athansius, Festal Letters 395 (Easter, 367) (NPF 2 4)
63] See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 436 (NPF 2 7)
2. Early Church Councils- The earliest major Church councils named the Pauline epistles as authentic writings; Nicea (c 325-40), Hippo (393), Carthage (397), and Carthage (419). This would not have been done unless the church at large believed them to be canonical.
During the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures. 64] The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.
64] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 422-426.
III. Date and Place of Writing
A. Internal Evidence- A popular view is to date the writing of 1Corinthians around A.D 55 to 57 while Paul was staying in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. Many scholars narrow the estimated date to the spring of A.D 54or 55. He would have written the epistle of 1Corinthians just before departing Ephesus after the Pentecost season, ending an effective three-year minister in that region ( 1 Corinthians 16:8). He then would have made his way into Macedonia visiting churches ( Acts 20:1-6) and spent the winter in Corinth ( 2 Corinthians 2:1-4; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1). The following spring he would have left them for the last time and made his way to Jerusalem while taking up a collection for the saints. Thus, he would have been in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost A.D 56, where he was arrested and imprisoned.
In an effort to establish this date, we must go back to the confirmed date of his first visit and work with information we read in the Scriptures. The date of A.D 50-51is confirmed based upon the consulship of Gallio in Corinth during Paul's stay there. We know that he wrote 1Corinthians some time after his departure from the city of Corinth. He immediately sailed from Cenchrea, stopped over in Ephesus and made his way back to the Palestinian port of Caesarea, visited the Jerusalem churches and finally made his way back to his home church in Antioch of Syria, thus, ending his second missionary journey ( Acts 18:18-22). We read in Acts 18:23 that Paul spent some time in Antioch before embarking upon his third missionary journey. He eventually made his way to the city of Ephesus, where he ministered and evangelized the surrounding region for about three years ( Acts 19:10; Acts 20:31).
Acts 19:10, "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."
Acts 19:31, "And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre."
Sometime during his work there, a delegate of esteemed men from the church of Corinth came to visit Paul with a list of questions about Church lifestyle ( 1 Corinthians 16:17).
1 Corinthians 16:17, "I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied."
It was during this visit that Paul most likely heard the report from the house of Chloe about church divisions and strife ( 1 Corinthians 1:11) as we as fornication in the church. However, some scholars believe that this took place in a separate visit to Paul.
1 Corinthians 1:11, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you."
1 Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father"s wife."
We can conclude from Paul's closing passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 that he is writing this epistle from the city of Ephesus, because he mentions it by name.
1 Corinthians 16:8-9, "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."
His statement, "for a great door and effectual is opened unto me," accurately describes his work in this region of Asia Minor; for nowhere else on his three missionary journeys did he have such an effective ministry than during his three years in Ephesus. This is stated in Acts 19:20, "So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."
Paul's reference to Asia in 1 Corinthians 16:19 very likely does not refer to the vast region of Asia Minor, but rather to the smaller Roman province called Asia, of which Ephesus was a part, and from where Paul had carried out a great deal of evangelistic work. The reference to Aquila and Priscilla in 1Corinthians is supported by Acts 18:18-19 which says that Paul came to Ephesus and left them there upon his departure.
1 Corinthians 16:19, "The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house."
Paul refers to Ephesus one more time in 1 Corinthians 15:32, which further supports the place of writing as Ephesus.
1 Corinthians 15:32, "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die."
Paul most likely wrote this first epistle after winter had past, and before Easter had arrived in April. He planned on coming to them after Easter ( 1 Corinthians 16:8-9) and visiting them for a while, even through the following winter months ( 1 Corinthians 16:5-8). The fact that Paul could send greetings from Aquila and Priscilla to the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 16:19) further supports Ephesus, since the book of Acts shows that they were staying there at this time ( Acts 18:26).
1 Corinthians 16:19, "The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house."
Acts 18:26, "And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."
We also know that Apollos visited Corinth after Paul's first departure ( Acts 18:24 to Acts 19:1). Since Paul's references to Apollos in this first epistle ( 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4-6; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 4:6) tell us that the Corinthians were familiar with his teachings, and Paul asked him to return and visit them again ( 1 Corinthians 16:12), Paul must have written to them after Apollos departed from Corinth some time later, perhaps a few years later.
Acts 19:1, "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,"
1 Corinthians 16:12, "As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time."
It is the visit from the delegate of Corinth that prompted Paul to sit down and write 1Corinthians. Some scholars date these visits towards the end of Paul's stay in Ephesus (early A.D 55), but others date it in the midst of this 3-year period (early A.D 54) in order to give Paul time to make his "painful visit" and returning to Ephesus before his final departure from this city. This would bring us to the logical conclusion that Paul wrote 1Corinthians while at Ephesus around A.D 54or 55.
As to who carried this letter from Paul to the Corinthians, we have to several suggestions. It could have been the delegate of believers that visited Paul with several questions about church conduct ( 1 Corinthians 16:17), which is most likely. Another possibility is that Paul sent this letter by the hand of Timothy, whom Paul says is being sent to them to remind them of Paul's teachings ( 1 Corinthians 4:17).
1 Corinthians 4:17, "For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved Song of Solomon, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church."
In summary, many scholars date the writing of 1Corinthians in the spring of A.D 54or 55 from the city of Ephesus.
B. External Evidence - Two traditions come down to us from the early Church fathers, giving us a place of writing for 1Corinthians at both Ephesus and Philippi. John Calvin (1509-1564) tells us that there were two ancient conflicting traditions regarding place of writing of some of the Pauline epistles, that of the Greek church and of the Latin church, which is also known as the East and the West. 65] If the Authorized Version (1611) followed the Latin tradition by saying 1Corinthians was written from Philippi, then Theodoret of Cyrrus, Euthalius, and Pseudo-Athanasius followed the Greek tradition, placing it in Ephesus.
65] John Calvin, Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, trans. John Pringle (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1851), 309.
1. Theodoret of Cyrrus (Syria) (A.D 393-466) - Theodoret writes, "After these things, I think he wrote the first one to the Corinthians. And while staying in Ephesus at that time he wrote this one; for surely, about the end of the epistle he says, ‘And I will abide in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a great and effectual door has opened to me; and (there are) many adversaries.' And after he preached in Ephesus, in Macedonia, and to the Achaians, and to the Corinthians, it permits, he teaches from the knowledge of the [book of] Acts." (PG 82cols 37B-40A) (author's translation)
2. Euthalius (5th c.) - In his argument to the first epistle of Corinthians, Euthalius writes, "This one he sent from Ephesus of Asia, having seen them already and taught them." (PG 85 Colossians 752D) (author's translation)
3. Pseudo-Athanasius (Synopsis of Sacred Scripture) (4th-6th c.) - In the Synopsis of Sacred Scripture, Pseudo-Athanasius (4th-6th c.) begins his summary of 1Corinthians by saying, "This one Paul himself writes to the Corinthians from Ephesus of Asia, having indeed seen and taught them already." (PG 28 Colossians 416B)
4. Ebedjesu (d 1318) - Ebedjesu, the Syrian bishop, reflects medieval tradition by saying Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians from the city of Ephesus. 66]
66] Ebedjesu writes, "Besides these there are fourteen epistles of the great Apostle Paul…the First Epistle written to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus and sent by the hands of Timothy." See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 321; George Percy Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol 2 (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), 362-363.
5. The Authorized Version (1611) - Euthalius, an unknown deacon of the fifth century, is believed to have provided the testimonies for the subscriptions to the Pauline epistles found in the Authorized Version (1611). 67] However, not all of these subscriptions match the comments of Euthalius (compare the differences in 1,2Corinthians and 2Thessalonians). Thus, the committee of the Authorized Version probably relied on various sources for their subscriptions. A subscription attached to this epistle of 1Corinthians in the Authorized Version (1611) reads, "The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanaus, and Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Timotheus." 68]
67] Matthew George Easton, "Subscriptions," in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c 1897), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).
68] The Holy Bible: A Facsimile in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, ed. Alfred William Pollard (Oxford: The University Press, 1911).
1 Corinthians 16:17, "I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied."
The primary recipients to Paul's letter to the Corinthians were the saints at Corinth. We know that the church at Corinth was made up of Jews and Gentiles, as were all of the churches that Paul planted. Although the church at Corinth was primarily made up of the lower class citizens ( 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 1 Corinthians 7:18-24; 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 12:2), we do find evidence that a number of Paul's converts were of rank. For example, Sosthenes was the chief ruler of the synagogue ( Acts 18:17, 1 Corinthians 1:1). Erastus was the chamberlain of the city of Corinth ( Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14). Crispus was also a chief ruler of the synagogue ( Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 1:14). Gaius appears to be a man of enough wealth to host Paul and his companions ( Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14).
Acts 18:8, "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."
Acts 18:17, "Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things."
Romans 16:23, "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother."
1 Corinthians 1:1, "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,"
1 Corinthians 1:14, "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;"
Thus, Paul was able to evangelist practically all of the Gentile social classes of this city through the power of the Gospel. In addition, we have evidence that a number of Jews had joined with Paul ( Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 7:18; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
Acts 18:8, "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."
1 Corinthians 1:12, "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."
1 Corinthians 7:18, "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised."
1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Regarding the characteristics of the believers at Corinth, 1Corinthians reveals that they showed their immaturity by allowing strife and divisions within their members. They reflected some of the moral laxity of their surrounding culture by tolerating fornication from one church member. They were not clear how far to participate in idolatrous practices, such as eating meats offered unto idols. They allowed the spiritual gifts to breed vain glory. They even questioned the resurrection when this issue was challenged. However, we must recognize that they had walked in enough faith to be able to exercise the gifts of the Spirit, something that many churches lack today. They were willing to participate in the giving of the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Finally, they had enough maturity to write down a list of questions on practical everyday living and consult Paul's advice on such matters that needed clarification.
Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 1:2 that his secondary recipients are those other saints "in every place that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord." Therefore, the first epistle to the Corinthians easily became a circular letter for other churches. In fact, the commandments that Paul gave the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 7:17 were placed upon all the churches.
1 Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:"
1 Corinthians 7:17, "But as God hath distributed to every Prayer of Manasseh, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches."
The city of Corinth was the first Gentile city that Paul spent a considerable length of time in, and this was because of the many opportunities that it had to offer. Paul had experienced much success in the conversion of souls and in planting churches in this region, but he faced a great challenge in guiding this young flock into a holy lifestyle. After eighteen months Paul had to leave Corinth behind and entrust these souls into the care of the Lord, although he visited them a number of times as well as keeping in touch by means of his co-workers, whom he sent to visit the church. Having ended his second missionary journey and returning to his home church of Antioch, Paul turned his attention to the earlier churches he had planted. With his arrival in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, Paul again experienced an overwhelming response from the people and settled there for some time.
While in Ephesus, perhaps towards the middle or end of his three-year ministry there, a report came from the household of Chloe regarding divisions within the church ( 1 Corinthians 1:11). Another common report mentioned a case of incest ( 1 Corinthians 5:1) as well as abuses of the Lord's supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:18). These young believers were being torn apart with church strife and divisions. They also had one member living in fornication.
1 Corinthians 1:11, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you."
1 Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father"s wife."
With the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus from the church at Corinth to meet Paul at Ephesus, a number of issues were presented to him. This delegate brought a letter with a number of questions about practical everyday living. This letter is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:1. Some church members were eating the very meat that had been offered during the festive temple worships, which indicates that some were still participating in such idolatry. The divisions were resulting in abuse of the Lord's Supper. With these moral failures at hand, this delegate had also come to Paul with a number of pressing questions. They asked the apostle's advice on the complicated issues that marriage and divorce brings into any congregation. ( 1 Corinthians 7:1). They inquired about the eating of meat offered to the idols ( 1 Corinthians 8:1). They needed to know the proper conduct in the church during public assembly, if women need to cover themselves during worship ( 1 Corinthians 11:2). As they abounded in the gifts of utterance, they had many questions as to their operation and function within the church ( 1 Corinthians 12:1). There was the issue of the resurrection that needed further clarification ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-58). Finally, the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem needed to be set in order ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-11). 69]
69] Louis Berhkof, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html; Internet, 88.
1 Corinthians 7:1, "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman."
1 Corinthians 8:1, "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."
1 Corinthians 12:1, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant."
Thus, the church at Corinth did not need a doctrinal discourse on justification by faith as taught to the Galatians or on the mystery of our identity in Christ as taught to the church at Ephesus. Their immediate need was an issue of conduct, and not creed. Their liberality in Christ had swung the pendulum too far to the right, and they were missing the message of the crucified life. Thus, the basic theme of his two epistles to the Corinthian church is the Cross of Calvary and how to live under the shadow of the Cross. With this foundation laid, Paul deals extensively with their conduct in daily living.
LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)
"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.
If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."
(Thomas Schreiner) 70]
70] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.
Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called "epistle genre," In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the Pauline epistles, as well as a brief look at the grammar and syntax of the epistle of 1Corinthians.
VI. Comparison to the Pauline Epistles
The epistle of 1Corinthians has a number of recognizable and unique characteristics.
A. Comparison to the Gospels and the Teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ - We find in 1Corinthians the only reference to the Lord's Supper outside of the four Gospels ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). In addition, Paul directly refers to the teachings of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Corinthians 9:14 and 1 Corinthians 14:37 as commandments that have authority over the churches. In 1 Corinthians 15:4-7 we have an account of six appearances of the Lord immediately after His resurrection, some of which are recorded nowhere else in Scriptures. Paul opens his epistle by telling the Corinthians that his preaching to them relied heavily on the message of the Cross of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:16-17).
B. Comparison of Usage of the Old Testament - Paul takes numerous opportunities to refer back to the Old Testament teachings in his first epistle to the Corinthians. He refers to the Mosaic Law and other Old Testament Scriptures ( 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Corinthians 14:21; 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 15:27; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; 1 Corinthians 15:54-55), to Jewish customs ( 1 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 10:18), and to Jewish history ( 1 Corinthians 10:1-11). However, 1Corinthians is largely a Gentile letter, with the word "law" occurring only 9 times (and is entirely absent from 2Corinthians), as opposed to 32times in Galatians and 72times in Romans. The verb "to circumcise" occurs only twice, and the noun once.
C. Comparison of Style: Its Structure Is in the Format of Answering Questions Delivered to Him - 1 Corinthians 7:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 is structured in the format of questions and answers. In this epistle Paul attempts to respond to questions given to him by a church delegate. Paul answers their questions in much length, covering entire chapters to do so. Note in comparison how Paul preached at length on his missionary journeys:
Acts 20:7-11, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed."
D. Comparison of Style: Its Content Is the Most Practical of Paul's Epistles - 1Corinthians is the most practical and comprehensive epistle in the New Testament. It is second in size only to Romans. However, unlike Romans and other epistles that emphasizes doctrine, 1Corinthians Paul deals with practical conduct on daily living.
E. Comparison of Tone: Its Tone is a Mixture of Praise and Rebuke - The epistle of 1Corinthians contains a mixture of praise as well as rebuke. Paul takes every opportunity to comment them for the positive aspects of Church growth; then he turns to the more difficult issues of correction and Church discipline. The Church at Corinth was abounding in the grace of God and in the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet, at the same time, they had resorted to church divisions as well as toleration for sins as vile as fornication among some members, and gross practices of the Lord's Supper.
VII. Grammar and Syntax
F. Grammar and Syntax: Frequently Used Words- Some of the most commonly used words in 1Corinthians are "know, Judges, spirit and spiritual, Wisdom of Solomon, world, church, authority, love, holy and sanctify." At no point does Paul contrast justification by faith with works of the law. This gives us a picture of an epistle that deals primarily with conduct and not creed. Thus, 1Corinthians gives us the clearest exposure to the daily life of the early Church to be found in the New Testament.
"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."
(Andreas Ksenberger) 71]
71] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.
Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of 1Corinthians, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of 1Corinthians for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.
The fundamental purpose for the nine Church Epistles is doctrinal, for God used Paul to lay down the doctrines for the New Testament Church, as he built upon the foundational teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to a doctrinal purpose, Paul's epistles give practical instructions on how to apply the teachings of the New Testament Church to the believer's daily conduct.
It is clear that Paul wrote 1Corinthians in order to respond to a number of questions and reports brought from a delegate sent by the church in Corinth.
A. Practical and Hortatory: To Teach Ethical Behaviour in the Church ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 to 1 Corinthians 16:18) - Although the fundamental purpose for the nine Church Epistles is doctrinal, Paul's epistles give practical instructions on how to apply the teachings of the New Testament Church to the believer's daily conduct.
Much of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians is practical in that he gives the church guidelines on how to manage their individual and congregational lives in the midst of an immoral society.
1. To Correct Moral Sins in the Church- Paul needed to give some specific instructions to those undisciplined believers who were promoting sin behavior within the church. There was division within the Church ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 to 1 Corinthians 4:21). One church member was involved in adultery ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). In this discussion Paul has to correct a misinterpretation from his previous letter ( 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Some were taking others to court ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-8). Paul also addresses a list of vices that they needed to lay aside in order to complete their sanctification, especially addressing fornication ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-20). This section of 1Corinthians appears to be Paul's responses to reports from the household of Chloe ( 1 Corinthians 1:11).
2. To Answer Questions About Ethical Behavior ( 1 Corinthians 7:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40) - There were a few genuine questions from faithful church members that Paul needed to respond to. He gave them instruction on marriage and celibacy in order to avoid fornication ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-40). There was also a pressing need to understand to what extent to partake of the secular festive events, such as eating meats that had been offered unto idols ( 1 Corinthians 8-10). There were the issues of a woman's role in public assembly ( 1 Corinthians 11:2-16) and well as some abuses of the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Paul also deals with the charismatic gifts and how they operate in a church service in 1 Corinthians 12:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40. This section of 1Corinthians appears to be Paul's response to the questions brought to him by the delegate from Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 16:17).
3. Occasional: To Organize the Collection for the Saints of Jerusalem ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-18) - Finally, Paul needed to give instructions on how they were to take up a collection for the saints in Jerusalem ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-4) before he makes his closing remarks ( 1 Corinthians 16:5-18). He seems to be responding to questions about Apollo's travel plans ( 1 Corinthians 16:12).
Thus, in this epistle we find the best example of Paul attempting to adapt the Christian faith to a heathen culture. In it Paul lays down principles of Church discipline, of social relationships between the brethren as well as between the secular society, of public worship and the role of women, of the sacraments and of the collections of church offerings.
Conclusion- The practical purpose of the epistles to the Corinthians reflects the secondary and third themes of the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believer in divine service.
B. Doctrinal: To Establish them in the Faith and Confront Doctrinal Error ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-58) - Paul's additional purpose in writing his first letter to the Corinthians was to establish them in the faith in issues regarding their sanctification in the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote the epistle of 1Corinthians to explain the doctrine of the resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-58), which seems to have been misunderstood by the church. It is very possible that the teachings on the resurrection were in the list of questions brought by the delegate from Corinth.
Conclusion- The doctrinal purpose of the epistles to the Corinthians reflects the foundational theme of establishing the doctrines of the New Testament Church.
IX. Thematic Scheme
Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 72] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.
72] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).
A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of 1Corinthians: The Establishment of Church Doctrines- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.
Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.
This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.
1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer- There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.
Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1,2Timothy, Titus and Philemon; 73] and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles. 74] Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church ( Hebrews,, James, 1Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within ( 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, Jude).
73] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.
74] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.
2. The Central Theme of the Church Epistles: The Establishment of Church Doctrines - Of the thirteen Pauline epistles, nine are addressed to seven particular churches. By the third century, the early Church fathers testified as to the emphasis that Paul placed upon church doctrine in his epistles. For example, Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D 329 to 389) says that Paul wrote the Church epistles in order that the doctrines of the Church are "beyond question."
"At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers." (Lectures 1018) (NPF 2 7)
Isidore of Pelusium (A.D. d 450) calls Paul "the expounder of the heavenly doctrines." (Epistolarum 17) (PG 78 Colossians 184C). In his preface to his commentaries on the Pauline Epistles, Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) writes, "I know to be sure how I cannot escape the tongue of the fault-finders when attempting to interpret the doctrine of the divine Paul." (author's translation) 75] These nine "Church" epistles establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church. Thus, we may call the first nine Pauline epistles "Church Epistles." In these epistles Paul builds his Church doctrine upon the foundational teachings laid down by Christ Jesus in the Gospels. We acknowledge that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." ( 2 Timothy 3:16) Thus, every book of the Bible will contain doctrine, but these other books do not "add" to Church doctrine; rather, they support the doctrine laid down in the Gospels by Jesus Christ and in these nine Pauline epistles. For example, in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul tells Timothy and Titus to teach sound doctrine ( 1 Timothy 1:10, 2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1), a doctrine that is not contained within the Pastoral Epistles themselves. Therefore, Paul must be referring to doctrine that he taught to the churches, and most certainly doctrine that is contained within the Church epistles. Another example can be found in Hebrews 6:1-2, which refers to the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, doctrines that are not contained within the epistle of Hebrews. This epistle, rather, exhorts us to persevere in the divine doctrine that has previously been laid down, and a doctrine that is most certainly contained within the Church epistles.
75] Theodoret, Preface to Interpretation XIV Epistolarum Sancti Pauli Apostoli (PG 82col 36A).
In order to identify this New Testament doctrine, we must first go to the six foundational doctrines mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2 in order to identify this doctrine. This passage tells us that everything Jesus Christ said and taught in the Gospels can be summed up in the six foundational doctrines of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2.
Hebrews 6:1-2, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."
Here we find the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, which were first laid down by Christ in the Gospels.
1. repentance from dead works
2. faith toward God
4. laying on of hands
5. resurrection of the dead
6. eternal judgment
If one were to go through the four Gospels, he would find that all of Christ's teachings could be placed under one of these six doctrines. Later, the Heavenly Father used Paul to build upon these foundational doctrines through the Pauline epistles in order to establish the Church doctrinally. Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that He had many things to teach them, but they were not yet ready ( John 16:12).
John 16:12, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
John 16:12 tells us that the message of the Gospel that Jesus Christ taught His disciples was still incomplete at the time of His departure. This implies that we should look to the Epistles to find its fullness. Therefore, it is upon these six foundational doctrines of Christ that Paul lays down the doctrines of the Church. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of repentance from dead works and faith toward God by teaching on the justification of the believer through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of baptisms and of the laying on of hands by teaching on the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Paul builds his eschatology that Jesus began in the Gospels in the two doctrines of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment by teaching on the future glorification of the Church, which falls under the divine foreknowledge and election of God the Father. Thus, the Church epistles can be grouped by the three-fold office and ministry of the Trinity.
B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of 1Corinthians - The Office of the Holy Spirit (Sanctification) - The Spirit-Led Life of the Believer - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.
The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.
The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians, 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.
The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.
The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews,, James, and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.
The Apocalypse of John, though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.
1. The Secondary Theme of the Church Epistles- Within the nine Pauline "Church" epistles there are three epistles that serve as witnesses of the doctrine of justification through Jesus Christ ( Romans,, Galatians, Colossians); three serve as witnesses of the doctrine of sanctification by the Holy Spirit ( Romans, 1,2Thessalonians, 1,2Corinthians); and three testify of the doctrine of glorification by God the Father ( Romans,, Ephesians, Philippians). Note that the secondary epistles of Thessalonians and Corinthians can be considered as one witness because they share the same theme with their primary epistles. Noting that the epistle of Romans reflects all three aspects of Church doctrine in his exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the early Church fathers recognized the doctrinal preeminence of the epistle of Romans. For example, Theodoret of Cyrrus writes, "The epistle to the Romans has been placed first, as containing the most full and exact representation of the Christian doctrine, in all its branches; but some say, that it has been so placed out of respect to the city to which it was sent, as presiding over the whole world." (PG 82col 44B) 76] In the same way that the Gospel of John serves as the foundational book of the Gospels as well as the entire New Testament, the epistle of Romans serves as the foundational epistle of the Church epistles because it carries all three themes that the other eight epistles will build upon.
76] See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 5 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 17.
As mentioned above, Paul's church doctrine builds upon the six-fold doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. This means that all of the Pauline church doctrine can be grouped within one of these six foundational doctrines of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 and Ephesians 2:20 when he said that he was laying the foundation of Church doctrine in which Jesus Christ Himself was the foundation.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 2:20, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
Thus, Paul's doctrine can be placed into three groups of doctrine: (1) the foreknowledge, calling and glorification of God the Father, (2) the justification by Jesus Christ His Song of Solomon, and (3) the sanctification of the Holy Spirit ( Romans 8:29). In fact, the six foundational doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-2 can also be placed under the same three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit by placing two doctrines under each one. Therefore, we will find that the themes of each of the Pauline "Church" epistles finds itself grouped under Paul's three-fold grouping of justification, sanctification and glorification, and this three-fold grouping is laid upon the six-fold foundation of:
1. Repentance from dead works Justification Jesus Christ
2. Faith toward God Justification Jesus Christ
3. The doctrine of baptisms Sanctification Holy Spirit
4. Laying on of hands Sanctification Holy Spirit
5. Resurrection of the dead Glorification God the Father
6. Eternal judgment Glorification God the Father
The doctrine of faith towards God builds upon the doctrine of repentance from dead works, which is the doctrine of Justification; for we must first repent of our sins in order to receive Christ's sacrificial death for us. The doctrine of the laying on of hands builds upon the doctrine of baptisms, which is the doctrine of Sanctification. After partaking of the three baptisms (baptism into the body of Christ, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit), we move into our calling and anointing through the laying on of hands. The doctrine of eternal judgment builds upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which is the doctrine of Glorification. These are the three parts of our redemption that are addressed by the six foundational doctrines that Jesus Christ laid down in the Gospels and Acts. Thus, Paul builds upon these three foundational doctrines of Christ within his nine "Church" epistles.
The epistle of Romans plays a key role in the Church Epistles in that it lays a foundation of doctrines upon which the other eight Epistles build their themes. A mediaeval proverb once said, "All roads lead to Rome." 77] This means that anywhere in the ancient Roman Empire, when someone embarked on the Roman road system, if one traveled it long enough, it would lead him to the city of Rome. In a similar way, as all roads lead to Rome, so do all of Paul's Church Epistles proceed from the book of Romans. In other words, the themes of the other eight Church Epistles build upon the theme of Romans. Thus, the epistle of Romans serves as a roadmap that guides us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and into the process of sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit and finally into the Father's eternal plan in the lives of mankind through His foreknowledge and divine election, which themes are further developed in the other eight Church Epistles. However, the epistle of Romans is presented largely from the perspective of God the Father divinely orchestrating His plan of redemption for all mankind while the other eight epistles place emphasis upon the particular roles of one of the God-head: the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. The systematic teachings laid forth in the book of Romans serves as a foundation upon which the other eight epistles to New Testament churches are built. For example, the letter to the Ephesians places emphasis upon the Father's divine election and equipping of the Church in order to fulfill the purpose and plan of God the Father upon this earth. Philippians emphasizes partnership as we give ourselves to God the Father in order to accomplish His will on this earth. The epistle to Colossians emphasizes the preeminence of Christ Jesus over the Church. Galatians emphasizes the theme of our deliverance and justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The theme of 1,2Thessalonians emphasizes the sanctification of the whole Prayer of Manasseh, spirit, soul, and body in preparing us for Christ's Second Coming 1,2Corinthians take us to the Cross and shows us the life of sanctification as we live in unity with one another so that the gifts of the Spirit can manifest through the body of Christ, which serves to edify the believers. Paul deals with each of these themes systematically in the epistle to the Romans. Thus, these other eight Church epistles emphasize and expand upon individual themes found in the book of Romans, all of which are built upon the three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For this reason, Romans serves as a foundation of the doctrine of Christ Jesus upon which all other New Testament epistles are built.
77] The Milliarium Aureum was a monument erected in the central forum the ancient city of Rome by Emperor Caesar Augustus. All of the roads built by the Romans were believed to begin at this point and transgress throughout the Empire. The road system of the Roman Empire was extraordinary, extending east to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and west to the British Isles, and north into central Europe and south into northern Africa. See Christian Hlsen, The Roman Forum: Its History and Its Monuments, trans. Jesse Benedict Carter (New York: G. E. Stechert & Co, 1906), 79; Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D 325, vol 1 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913), 1.
a) The Doctrine of the Office and Ministry of God the Father- The epistle of Ephesians is built upon the theme of God the Father's office and ministry of orchestrating a divine plan of redemption for mankind. While Romans takes a broad view of the Father's redemptive plan for all of mankind, Ephesians focuses entirely upon the role of the Church in this great plan. And in order for the believer to partake of this divine plan, the Father provides His spiritual blessings in heavenly places ( Ephesians 1:3) so that we, the Church, might accomplish His divine purpose and plan on earth. Man's role is to walk worthy of this calling ( Ephesians 4:1) and to fight the spiritual warfare through the Word of God ( Ephesians 6:10-13). The epistle of Philippians, which also emphasizes the work of God the Father, reveals how the believer is to serve God the Father so that He can fulfill His divine purpose and plan on earth. In this epistle the believer is to partner and give to support God's servants who are accomplishing God's purposes ( 1 Corinthians 1:5) and in turn, God will provide all of his needs ( Philippians 4:19). While Ephesians places emphasize upon the Father's role in the Church's glorification, Philippians emphasized the believer's role in fulfilling the Father's divine plan of redemption. Ephesians reveals how it looks in Heaven as the Father works redemption for the Church, and Philippians reveals how the Church looks when it is fulfilling the Father's redemptive plan. Reading Ephesians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Father's role in redemption, while reading Philippians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Father's role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Philippians is a mirror image of Ephesians.
b) Jesus Christ the Song of Solomon - The epistle of Colossians reveals the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Church and His preeminence over all Creation. Man's role is to fulfill God's will through the indwelling of Christ in him ( 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 4:12). The epistle of Galatians, which also emphasizes the work of Jesus the Son in our redemption, teaches us how Jesus Christ has delivered us from the bondages of this world ( 1 Corinthians 1:4). Man's role is to walk as a new creature in Christ in order to partake of his liberties in Christ ( 1 Corinthians 6:15). While the epistle of Colossians emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ our Lord in our justification, Galatians emphasizes our role in having faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Colossians reveals how it looks in Heaven as Jesus the Son works redemption, while Galatians reveals how the Church looks when it is walking in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and giving Him preeminence in our daily lives. Reading Colossians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Son's role in redemption, while reading Galatians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Son's role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Galatians is a mirror image of Colossians.
c) God the Holy Spirit - The epistles of 1,2Thessalonians teach us the office of the Holy Spirit, which is to sanctify the believer in spirit, soul and body ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23) in order to prepare him for the Second Coming of Christ Jesus ( 2 Thessalonians 1:10). The epistles of 1,2Corinthians, which also emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in our redemption, reveals how the believer is to live a crucified life of walking in love and unity with fellow believers ( 1 Corinthians 16:13-16) in order to allow the gifts of the Spirit to work in and thru him as he awaits the Second Coming of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:7). While the epistles to the Thessalonians emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification, the epistles to the Corinthians emphasize our role in this process 1,2Thessalonians reveal how it looks in Heaven as the Holy Spirit works redemption, while 1,2Corinthians show us how the Church looks when it is going through the difficult process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit. Reading 1,2Thessalonians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Holy Spirit's role in redemption, while reading 1,2Corinthians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Holy Spirit's role in redemption. Thus, the epistles of Corinthians are a mirror image of the epistles of Thessalonians.
Finally, the epistle of Romans deals briefly with all three doctrines in systematic order as Paul the apostle expounds upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( Romans 1:16-17) in order to establish the saints in the Christian faith ( Romans 16:25-27).
d) Illustration of Emphasis of Two Roles in the Pauline Epistles - We find a discussion of the important of the two-fold aspect of the writer and the reader in Booth-Colomb-Williams' book The Craft of Research. 78] These three professors explain that when a person writes a research paper he must establish a relationship with the intended reader. He does this by creating a role for himself as the writer and a role for the reader to play. This is because conversation is not one-sided. Rather, conversation, and a written report, involved two parties, the reader as well as the writer. Thus, we see how God has designed the Pauline epistles to emphasize the role the writer, by which we mean divine inspiration, and the reader, who plays the role of a believer endeavoring to become indoctrinated with God's Word.
78] Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 17-25.
Perhaps a good illustration of this two-fold aspect of the Trinity's role and perspective of redemption being emphasized in Ephesians, Colossian and 1,2Thessalonians and man's role and perspective being emphasized in Philippians,, Galatians, 1,2Corinthians is found in a dream that the Lord gave to me in the mid-1990's. I was serving in my church Calvary Cathedral International in the ministry of helps as an altar worker. This meant that during each altar call we were to follow those who responded to the altar call back into a prayer room and pray with them. One Sunday morning the Lord gave me a dream in which I found myself in my local church during an altar call. As people responded and began to step out into the aisle and walk forward I saw them immediately transformed into children of light. In other words, I saw this transformation taking place in the spiritual realm, though in the natural we see nothing but a person making his way down the aisle. However, I saw these people transformed from sinners into saints in their spirits. I later made my way to church that morning, keenly aware of my impressionable dream a few hours ago. During church the altar call was made, people responded and I followed them into the prayer room along with the associate pastor and other altar workers. Suddenly, the associate pastor, Tom Leuther, who was over the altar work, received an emergency call and had to leave the prayer room. He looked at me and quickly asked me to lead this brief meeting by speaking to those who had responded and turn them over to prayer ministers. As I stood up and began to speak to these people I remembered my dream and was very aware of the incredible transformation that each one of them had made. Thus, Ephesians, Colossian and 1,2Thessalonians discussion redemptive doctrine from a spiritual perspective while Philippians,, Galatians, 1,2Corinthians discuss doctrine from a natural, practical perspective, which we see being worked out in the daily lives of believers. In the natural we see a dirty sinner weeping before the altar, but with our spiritual eyes we see a pure and holy saint clothed in white robes.
2. The Secondary Theme of the Epistle of 1,2Corinthians- The theme of each Pauline epistle is revealed in its opening verses. The major theme of 1Corinthians is the sanctification and maturity of the believers, which is the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The underlying theme of 2Corinthians is the mercy and comfort of God that is given to those who will follow the Cross and fulfill the sufferings of Christ. It carries the same foundational theme of 1Corinthians, but with an emphasis upon a particular aspect of the work of sanctification in the life of a believer. So follows the theme that we must we take up our Cross daily in order to grow into maturity. Thus, the second epistle closes with a comment of Paul's desire for their perfection.
2 Corinthians 13:9, "For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection."
One way to contrast the emphases of 1,2Corinthians is to compare it to a lesson that you taught to a class. As you return home and begin to mediate upon this lesson, you realize that there were several things that you wish you had said or pointed out in greater detail. This greater detail and important aspect of sanctification as we take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ is emphasized in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians.
As we begin to grow into maturity, many blessings will come into our lives, such as the gifts of the Spirit, which are so thoroughly discussed in 1Corinthians 12-14. But we cannot continue in these blessings without correction and discipline to keep us on the path of righteousness. For example, we find in Proverbs 3:1-10 a list of blessings followed by two verses of discipline and correction ( 1 Corinthians 3:11-12). For a child cannot be given only sweet things without also being led into a life of discipline. As a child grows older, he will learn to exercise discipline in how to manage the good things that has been given to him. Otherwise, an unruly behavior will lead him on a path of losing his blessings and falling into utter ruin and loss.
Thus, Paul tells the church at Corinth that God's graces are for us all, but we must grow up into maturity in order to maintain these blessings. This is done by taking up our Cross daily to follow Him. For it is in the life of the Cross that these graces abound, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 that this is the reason they abound in his life.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ"s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
The major theme of 2Corinthians is the mercy and comfort of God that is given to those who will follow the Cross and fulfill the sufferings of Christ. As the major theme of 1Corinthians is guidelines for walking in the gifts and grace of the Lord, so follows the theme that we must we take up our Cross daily in order to continue in those graces. Thus, Paul tells the church at Corinth that God's graces are for us all, but we must remember to discipline ourselves in order to maintain these blessings by taking up our Cross daily for Him. For it is in the life of the Cross that these graces abound, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ"s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
C. Third Theme (Supportive) of the Epistle of 1Corinthians- The Crucified Life of the Believer (We Manifest the Gifts of the Spirit While Walking in Love) - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon, and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.
1. The Third Imperative Theme of the Church Epistles- Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of these epistles also reveals a central truth about our Christian life, or a secret truth, or a divine guiding principle, by which we can walk victorious in this life.
a) God the Father. According to Ephesians, the way that God the Father fulfills His divine plan through the Church is by our submission to one another ( Ephesians 4:1-2; Ephesians 5:21) and praying in the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:18); thus, the enemy of our divine destiny is putting on the old man and walking like the Gentiles in their futile minds ( Ephesians 4:17). Philippians expands upon this central truth by explaining the secret to God supplying all of our needs when we take care of God's servants first ( Philippians 2:20); thus, the enemy to having our needs met is selfishness ( Philippians 2:21).
b) Jesus the Son. According to Colossians the secret of walking in the fullness and riches and completeness of Christ is by setting our minds on things above ( Colossians 3:1-2); thus, the enemy of a full life in Christ is minding these earthly doctrines ( Colossians 2:20-23). Galatians expands upon this central truth by telling us the secret to walking in liberty from the bondages of this world is by being led by the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16); thus, the enemy of our freedom is walking in the flesh, which brings us back into bondage ( Galatians 5:17).
c) God the Holy Spirit. 1Thessalonians reveals to us that the way we are motivated and encouraged to go through the process of sanctification is by looking for and waiting expectantly for the Second Coming of Christ; thus, the enemy of our sanctification is being ignorant of His Second Coming and pending judgment. 1Corinthians expands upon this central truth of sanctification by telling us that the secret to walking in the gifts of the Spirit is by walking in unity within the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:10); thus, the enemy of walking in the gifts is strife and division ( 1 Corinthians 1:11).
d) Summary- All three of these doctrines (justification, sanctification and glorification) reveal the process that God is taking every believer through in order to bring him from spiritual death and separation from God into His eternal presence, which process we call divine election. God's will for every human being is justification through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on Calvary as He serves as our Great High Priest at the right hand of the Father, into sanctification by the Holy Spirit and into divine service through the laying on of hands, until we obtain glorification and immortality by the resurrection from the dead and are judged before the throne of God. If God be for us, who can be against us? Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.
2. The Third Imperative Theme of the Epistle of 1Corinthians- The third theme of each of Paul's church epistles is an emphasis on how to apply the doctrinal truths laid down in the epistle to the Christian life. It is a life of crucifying the flesh and taking up our Cross daily to follow Him. In 1Corinthians our crucified lifestyle is manifested as we walk in unity and love within the body of Christ so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through our lives to minister to others. This is the secret to walking in the gifts of the Spirit. Thus, strife and division cause the gifts of the Spirit to be misused and quenched, but when a person obtains a lifestyle of walking in love, he can properly operate in these gifts, and he is able to achieve much more for the kingdom of God than those who serve without these gifts. In fact, the greatest Christian leaders on earth today are those who have embraced the Pentecostal message and operate in these spiritual gifts. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The epistle of 1Corinthians emphasizes one aspect of this conformity through the crucified life of faith and obedience in Him. The operation of the nine-fold gifts of the Spirit sanctifies the body of Christ. We participate in the sanctification of the body of Christ as the Holy Spirit manifests His gifts through us, edifying believers ( 1 Corinthians 14:3-4) and enhancing their sanctification. Our cooperation with the Holy Spirit and His gifts allows God plan of redemption to take place in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church."
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Figure 1 - The Themes of the Pauline Church Epistles
X. Literary Structure
The literary structure of the epistle of 1Corinthians must follow the thematic scheme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.
The epistle of 1Corinthians is structured like one aspect of our spiritual journey. It explains our journey of foreknowledge, justification, sanctification and glorification from the aspect of the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit as He sanctifies us for Christian service.
I. Introduction ( 1 Corinthians 1:1-9) - 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 is considered the introductory remarks to Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians.
A. Salutation ( 1 Corinthians 1:1-3) - 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul's New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).
2 Thessalonians 3:17, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."
1 Corinthians 1:1-3 contains Paul's opening greeting to the church at Corinth. In this salutation, we find Paul placing emphasis upon the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit as He works in the lives of the believer to sanctify them in preparation for Christ's Second Coming.
B. Predestination: Opening Prayer of Thanksgiving ( 1 Corinthians 1:4-9) - Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well, 79] with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome ( Romans 1:8-12) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul's prayer of thanks for the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 1:4-8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul's prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul's prayer to the Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:15-22) reflects the theme of the believer's participation in God the Father's great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul's prayer to the Philippians ( Philippians 1:3-11) reflects the theme of the believer's role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul's prayer to the Colossians ( Colossians 1:9-16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul's second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer's sanctification.
79] John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a "health wish" and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, "Epistolary Genre," in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.
After giving a salutation to his readers in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, Paul's opening statement as a prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 sets the theme of the epistle of 1Corinthians. Paul states that they have been predestined to abound in the spiritual gifts through the operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He wants them to develop in these gifts because this is God's plan for building up the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 14:3-4). The operation of the gifts of the Spirit are the way that God confirms and establishes and directs believers in the body of Christ in order to bring the saints into maturity ( 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, Ephesians 4:7-16) and eventually receive their eternal redemption ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-58). Paul will spend the first eleven chapters of this epistle teaching on unity among believers and character development before launching into chapters 12,14on how they are to operate in these gifts, undergirded by the love walk. This is because it is only by unity in the body of Christ that the gifts of the Spirit and the anointing can operate properly. Otherwise, without love as the foundation of these gifts, they would operate in vain and bear no fruit. We find the same message of unity and the anointing in Psalm 133:1-3, which tells us "how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron"s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments."
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 reflects Paul's thanksgiving for God's grace (4-7), His strength (8), and His faithfulness (9).
Also, in 1 Corinthians 1:6 Paul makes a reference to their initial justification in Christ Jesus, which he will discuss in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 he refers to their need for sanctification, which Paul will elaborate on in chapters 3to 14. In 1 Corinthians 1:8 he refers to their coming glorification, which Paul will discuss in 1 Corinthians 15:1-58. Thus, this opening statement serves as a brief summary of the contents of this epistle.
II. The Father's Divine Calling of Mankind Through the Preaching of the Gospel: Exhortation to Unity ( 1 Corinthians 1:10-31) - In 1 Corinthians 1:10-31 Paul gives his exhortation to the church of Corinth to maintain unity among themselves, which reflects the third theme of this epistle. He tells them of a report from the household of Chloe that there were divisions among the believers in the church at Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 1:10-12), so he exhorts them to unity rather than being divided by following men ( 1 Corinthians 1:13-17). Paul then explains how God the Father, in His divine foreknowledge, has called the world to salvation through the preaching of the Gospel in such a way that it appears foolish to the world ( 1 Corinthians 1:18-31), so that those who accept Christ would glorify God and not man who brings the message ( 1 Corinthians 1:31). Within the context of this epistle, Paul explains the Father's foreknowledge in calling men to salvation from the perspective of the Holy Spirit revealing this foreknowledge; for wisdom and miracles are imparted unto men by the work of the Spirit. Thus, the Father's foreknowledge is reveals in His manifold wisdom through the foolishness of preaching.
A. The Report from the Household of Chloe ( 1 Corinthians 1:10-12) - In 1 Corinthians 1:10-12 Paul tells the church about the report that has come to him from some of their church members. This report reveals the divisions that have developed among the congregation.
B. Exhortation to Unity ( 1 Corinthians 1:13-17) - Paul explains to the church that there is unity in Christ, and that he never came with the intent of gathering followers after himself. He came only to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
C. The Preaching of the Cross ( 1 Corinthians 1:18-31) - In 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Paul explains how the preaching of the cross is seen as foolishness to the Greeks who sought wisdom and it was seen as weak to the Jews who sought a sign. Regarding the wisdom of the Greeks, Matthew Henry says, "Some of the ancients tell us that the city (of Corinth) abounded with rhetoricians and philosophers. These were men naturally vain, full of self-conceit, and apt to despise the plain doctrine of the gospel, because it did not feed the curiosity of an inquisitive and disputing temper, nor please the ear with artful speeches and a flow of fine words." 80]
80] Matthew Henry, 1Corinthians, in Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on 1Corinthians .
III. Justification by Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-16) - In 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 Paul discusses how the Corinthians were saved, or justified through their faith in the power of God ( 1 Corinthians 2:2). But, he discusses their initial salvation from the perspective of the Holy Spirit's work in them, since the underlying theme of this epistle is about the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Paul explains that the mystery of the Gospel, hidden in ages past, can only be understood by the Holy Spirit revealing it to us ( 1 Corinthians 2:10).
IV. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40) - In 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 Paul takes the greater part of this epistle to teach them about the process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. However, the ways in which these issues are presented reflect the sanctification of man's mind, body, and spirit, in that order. For example, Paul's discussion on church divisions ( 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:21) emphasizes the sanctification of our minds so that we learn not to prefer one church member, or church leader, above another. His discussion on fornication ( 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40) emphasizes the sanctification of our bodies, as we offer them as holy vessels to the Lord. His discussion on meats offered until idols ( 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1) emphasizes the sanctification of our spirits as we learn to walk and conduct our lifestyles with a clean conscience, which is the voice of the spirit. Paul then turns his attention to issues regarding public worship ( 1 Corinthians 11:2 to 1 Corinthians 14:40). Remember in the Old Testament how the priests and Levites had to sanctify themselves before entering into the service of the Tabernacle and Temple. Therefore, Paul uses this same approach for the New Testament Church. As we allow our minds, bodies and spirits to yield to the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, we become vessels in which the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit can operate.
A. Church Divisions: Sanctification of the Mind to Stop Respecting Persons ( 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:21) - In 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:21 Paul returns to the issue of divisions within the church at Corinth, in which he will emphasize the sanctification of the mind, so that the believers at Corinth understand that Christ is the preeminent head of the body, and not particular members. He opens this passage by explaining that strife and divisions are an indication of carnality ( 1 Corinthians 3:1-4). He then explains how the offices of himself and Apollos are united in the Gospel by using the analogies of husbandry ( 1 Corinthians 3:5-9) and building a house ( 1 Corinthians 3:10-17). He uses these two analogies to explain that ministers are simply servants of God, who are labouring to build upon the foundation of what Jesus Christ laid in the Gospels. However, those who think themselves to be wise and try to serve the Lord by being independent from others and doing things their own way, which includes labouring within divided groups within the Church, are actually unwise. Paul encourages them to become "fools" for Christ and stop boasting in the works of men ( 1 Corinthians 3:18-23). Paul then explains the stewardship that is required by the true servants of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 4:1-5). The evidence of Paul's divine stewardship is seen in the prosperity of the Corinthians and in the hardship that Christ's ministers must endure for their sake ( 1 Corinthians 4:6-13). Paul then declares his spiritual authority over them because he brought them to faith in Christ ( 1 Corinthians 4:14-21).
1. The Carnality of Strife and Divisions ( 1 Corinthians 3:1-4) - Paul begins his efforts in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 to being sanctification of the mind to the believers in Corinth by indicting them of the error of bringing strife and divisions among themselves, which is an indication of immaturity. He called this behavior a sign of their carnality.
2. The Unity of Christian Ministry ( 1 Corinthians 3:5-17) - The Corinthians believers had been viewing their spiritual leaders from an earthly perspective, which had caused divisions. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 Paul gives the Corinthians a spiritual perspective of the ministry of himself and Apollos using the analogy of farmers working together to produce a harvest ( 1 Corinthians 3:5-9). He then gives them a spiritual perspective of the believers collectively using the analogy of a house being fitted together with many parts ( 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). He then gives them spiritual insight into the individual believers using the analogy of the Temple of God ( 1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
a) The Analogy of Husbandry ( 1 Corinthians 3:5-9) - Paul uses the analogy of farming to explain how he and Apollos were working together to produce a spiritual harvest of souls in the Kingdom of Heaven.
b) The Analogy of a House ( 1 Corinthians 3:10-15) - In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Paul gives a second analogy in order to explain how the Church works together in unity as the body of Christ.
c) The Analogy of the Temple ( 1 Corinthians 3:16-17) - Paul uses the analogy of the Temple of God to explain how each child of God is a vessel for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
3. The Stewardship of Christian Ministry ( 1 Corinthians 4:1-5) - In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Paul explains stewardship. He is saying in this passage that he and his fellow workers were helpers of Christ, and because He had given to them responsibilities, they had also become stewards of such responsibilities, as those who will one day give an account of this stewardship ( 1 Corinthians 4:5). Therefore, in light of eternal judgment, Paul gives very little weight of importance to the judgment of others about his ministry ( 1 Corinthians 4:3). Neither does he give much weight to the way he judges himself, for he knows that the Lord is a better judge of all these things ( 1 Corinthians 4:4).
4. Evidences of Paul's Stewardship ( 1 Corinthians 4:6-13) - In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Paul explains stewardship. He now takes time in 1 Corinthians 4:6-13 to give evidential support for himself and Apollos as stewards of God. In 1 Corinthians 4:9 Paul tells the Corinthians that God has set them apart to be made spectacles to the world. He then beings to describe what this means by listing a series of events that Paul and his companions have suffered for Christ's sake. In 1 Corinthians 4:10-13 Paul describes himself by how the world sees him, while contrasting the Corinthians from the perspective of God's beloved people. He explains how he appears before the world as foolish, weak and despised. The world sees his traveling group of evangelists as hungry, thirsty, without proper clothing, buffeted by others and constantly wandering from city to city. They toil with their hands like the slaves who serve the wealthy aristocrats. They endure being reviled, being persecuted and being defamed. Thus, to the world, they appear as useless filth.
5. Paul Declares His Spiritual Authority Over the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 4:14-21) - In 1 Corinthians 4:14-21 Paul the apostle declares his spiritual authority over the church at Corinth because he brought them to faith in Christ.
B. Fornication: Sanctification of the Body to Become a Holy Vessel ( 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40) - In 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40 Paul deals with the topic of fornication in the church at Corinth, which emphasizes the sanctification of the flesh. The key word in this passage of Scripture is "fornication", which family of words is used twelve times in this passage of Scripture: ( πορνεία) 5 times ( 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:2), ( πορνεύω) 1time ( 1 Corinthians 6:18), ( πόρνη) 2times ( 1 Corinthians 6:15-16) ( πόρνος) 4times ( 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Paul has heard about these problems within this church from reliable sources. Paul relied upon reliable sources in order to deal with these issues ( 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 5:1).
1 Corinthians 1:11, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you."
1 Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father"s wife."
We can divide 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40 into four sections:
1. Paul Passes Judgment in the Church ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13) - In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 Paul passes judgment in the church of Corinth over an issue of a member being involved in fornication. In the following passages of this section Paul gives them their basis for judging among themselves ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-11), and then explains why fornication must be judged ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
2. Paul Gives the Corinthians their Basis for Judging Among Themselves ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-11) - In the previous passage Paul passed judgment in the church of Corinth over an issue of a member being involved in fornication ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). In the following passages of this section Paul gives them their basis for judging among themselves ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-11), and then explains why fornication must be judged ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20). In 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 he gives them their basis for judging themselves, which is the fact that they shall one day judge the world and angels. Another way to say this is that Paul delegates to them the authority to judge among themselves. Thus, they are qualified to be judges among themselves. He even provides them a list of the more common vices that should be judged in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
3. Why Fornication Must be Judged ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20) - In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 elaborates on the sin of fornication and how it is different from other sins. We can imagine such a problem in the city of Corinth with its temple prostitutes and debauchery. In the previous passage Paul passed judgment in the church of Corinth over an issue of a member being involved in fornication ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). He then gave them their basis for judging among themselves ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-11). Now he explains why fornication must be judged ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
4. Marriage in the Church ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-40) - Paul finishes the topic of fornication by presenting God's divine remedy to avoid fornication, which is the institution of marriage. Thus, he will build upon this discussion of fornication by telling them how to avoid it either through marriage, or by celibacy. The topic of marriage and celibacy would naturally follow a discussion on the problem of fornication within the church. Paul first gives guidelines for Christian marriage ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-24). In this discussion Paul speaks to the unmarried and widows by first explaining the duties of marriage of how both the husband and the wife have certain responsibilities towards one another ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-9). He then addresses the married by discussing the various situations that bring about divorce ( 1 Corinthians 7:10-24). In this section to the married he advises believers not to seek a divorce ( 1 Corinthians 7:10-11), then he addresses the special cases of how a believer married to a non-believer should handle their situation ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Paul then he gives the guiding principle that a believer is to abide in all of his callings, which includes marriage ( 1 Corinthians 7:17-24). In the third section of this discourse on marriage Paul gives advice to virgins ( 1 Corinthians 7:25-38). Finally, Paul advised widows to remain single ( 1 Corinthians 7:39-40).
a) Advice to the Unmarried and Widows ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-9) - In 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Paul gives his advice to the unmarried and widowed. In this passage he explains the duties of marriage of how both the husband and the wife have certain responsibilities towards one another.
b) Advice to the Married ( 1 Corinthians 7:10-24) - In 1 Corinthians 7:10-24 Paul gives his advice to those believers who were married when they were saved. He will basically tell them not to initiate divorce. They were to stay married as long as it was tolerable. But for those who decided that it was no longer tolerable, he gave them strict guidelines to either remain unmarried, or to seek reconciliation with their Exodus -spouse ( 1 Corinthians 7:11). Paul then gives the married a guiding principle to remain in their callings that they had when they were saved ( 1 Corinthians 7:17-24). Here is a proposed outline of this passage:
c) Advice to Virgins ( 1 Corinthians 7:25-38) - In 1 Corinthians 7:25-38 Paul addresses virgins on the topic of marriage. In this section Paul will explain that singleness is preferred over marriage, but not required by the Lord ( 1 Corinthians 7:25-28). He then lays out his argument for the advantage of the single lifestyle in that it allows a person to serve the Lord unhindered ( 1 Corinthians 7:29-35). He then returns to the option of marriage as something that can be done when someone feels it is needful ( 1 Corinthians 7:36-38).
The epistle of 1Corinthians was most likely written around A.D 55 to 57 while Paul was staying in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. Thus, the believers in Corinth were living in a time of increasing persecution from the Roman Empire. Paul advises them to not seek marriage during this stressful time ( 1 Corinthians 7:25-28). After telling the saints that marriage is good and acceptable in God's eyes ( 1 Corinthians 7:28), he launches into a passage that helps us better understand how to balance our married life with our Christian life, to balance earthly issues with eternal issues ( 1 Corinthians 7:29-35). As saints we must live in this world and use its goods, especially for those who choose to marry, because marriage requires more earthly responsibility and attention ( 1 Corinthians 7:32-33). Paul is telling the saints in 1 Corinthians 7:29-33 that although we live in this world and marry as other do, we must not indulge in the things of this world ( 1 Corinthians 7:31). Even our marriages should reflect the pursuit of the kingdom of God ( 1 Corinthians 7:29). Paul is trying to teach them how to balance this properly in their lives. We are to live above the cares and pursuits of this life. We can tell if we are worldly-minded because we will rejoice in the things that the world rejoices in and we will weep when the world weeps ( 1 Corinthians 7:30). In 1 Corinthians 7:29-33 Paul describes the cares of this world, which are marriage, weeping and rejoicing in the things of this life, buying and possessing material things. Paul explains to them that they are not to indulge in the affairs of this world, simply because the time is short. That Isaiah, the time of the Lord's Return is short. This passage is a clear indication that the early Church believed in Christ's imminent return. Paul makes a similar statement to young Timothy when he said that no man who goes to war entangles himself in the affairs of this life ( 2 Timothy 2:4). However, the spiritual-minded will rejoice in the things of God. Paul ends this topic by saying if a believer feels the strong need to marry, then he is free to do so ( 1 Corinthians 7:36-38).
2 Timothy 2:4, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
d) Paul Advises Widows ( 1 Corinthians 7:39-40) - Paul advises widows to continue in their singleness.
C. Idolatry and Things Offered unto Idols: Sanctification of the Spirit to Learn how to Walk with a Pure Conscience ( 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1) - In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, using it as an opportunity to each on being led by the spirit by walking with a good conscience, which is voice of our spirit. The word "conscience" ( συνείδησις) is used 9 times in this passage of Scripture. Paul opens ( 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 8:12) and closes ( 1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 10:27-29) this passage with this word. This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…" Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when confronted with such invitations. The guiding principle that Paul teaches in this passage is for the believer to be led by his conscience so that he does not offence his brother. Therefore, Paul's concluding statement on how to deal with this issue Isaiah, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God," ( 1 Corinthians 10:31).
1. Eating Meat offered to Idols ( 1 Corinthians 8:1-13) - Paul begins this lengthy discussion on meats offered unto idols by laying down a ruling principle that a believer should show concern for the conscience of the weaker brother. This is the love walk that Paul undergirds his entire epistle with. In other words, everything that these believers do, whether among themselves and in the world, must be motivated by love. Paul first contrasts knowledge with love ( 1 Corinthians 8:1-3). He then explains their knowledge of idolatry ( 1 Corinthians 8:4-6) before explaining how to walk in love and consideration for the well-being of his brother who is weak in the faith ( 1 Corinthians 8:7-13).
2. A Positive Example: Paul's Carefulness not to Offend ( 1 Corinthians 9:1-27) - In 1 Corinthians 9:1-27 Paul uses himself as an example of the love walk through self-denial. In this passage he illustrates in his own life as an apostle the warning he has just stated in 1 Corinthians 8:9, which says, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." In other words, he was careful not to allow his liberties in the Gospel to cause the weak to stumble. Paul would not ask the Corinthians to do something that he was not willing to do himself. In this passage of Scripture he discusses four rights, or privileges that belonged to him as an apostle to the Gentiles. These rights were shown to him by revelation and the knowledge of God's Word. Yet, he was careful in how he used them.
He explains how he has the right as an apostle of Jesus Christ to eat and drink whatever he wanted, to receive financial gifts, to marry and to cease from secular employment ( 1 Corinthians 9:1-14). Yet, he chose to deny himself these basic privileges in order to present the Gospel to them without costing them financially ( 1 Corinthians 9:15-23). He explains how he has made himself a servant to others in order that he may receive the eternal rewards from his labours and not be disqualified because of some foolish, selfish act ( 1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
a) Paul Explains His Apostleship Over the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 9:1-14) - In 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 Paul explains his apostolic authority over the believers a Corinth. He will follow this point by explaining how he is careful not abuse this authority ( 1 Corinthians 9:15-27).
b) Paul's Carefulness in Using His Privileges ( 1 Corinthians 9:15-27) - In 1 Corinthians 9:15-27 Paul uses himself as an example for the Corinthians to follow by illustrating his lifestyle as one of moral constraint and not of indulgence. While the Greek culture, particularly in Corinth, was one of wealth, indulgence, fornication and other fleshly indulgences, the Christian lifestyle was one of discipline and sacrifice.
3. A Negative Example: The idolatry of Israel in the Wilderness ( 1 Corinthians 10:1-14) - 1 Corinthians 8-10 deals with idolatry and the practice of eating things offered to idols. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 Paul warns the believers in Corinth about how easy it is to fall back into a lifestyle of idolatry, which was taking place all around them in the Greek culture. He tells them to take diligent heed lest they fall back into this lifestyle after having been saved and washed by the blood of Jesus. He knows that if they compromise a little with the lifestyle that was associated with idolatry, then they stood in danger of falling back into the bondages of their old sins. In exhorting them towards sanctification, Paul uses the example of the children of Israel in the wilderness as a testimony of how easily someone can start out right and fall back into sin.
4. A Personal Example: The Lord's Table Contrasted with Pagan Worship ( 1 Corinthians 10:15-22) - In 1 Corinthians 10:15-22 Paul explains the purpose of the Lord's Supper and contrasts it with the heathen feasts and their foods offered unto idols. This idolatrous feasting was going on around the believers at Corinth. Paul makes the point that as believers they could not partake of both tables because the Lord's Supper brings a person into unity with Christ and fellow believers just as heathen feasting brings one in unity with demons.
5. Conclusion ( 1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1) - In 1 Corinthians 10:15 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul concludes this lengthy passage on foods offered until idols by giving them a divine principle to live by. In this passage he restates his original ruling principle that we must seek the well-being of others before seeking our own satisfactions; for the eternal soul of that person is at risk of falling. He first explains that as a believer they are free in many aspects of life. However, many things they may feel free to do may harm them or cause others to stumble. He gives the example of eating foods offer to idols. Paul explains that there in nothing evil about eating food, for Christ has set us free from many religious dietary rules, but eating meats offered to idols was closely associated in the Greek culture with temple prostitution, for both activities often took place in the same venue. Therefore, Paul was warning these believers to abstain from such festive occasions when invited if it causes another brother to stumble.
D. Public Worship ( 1 Corinthians 11:2 to 1 Corinthians 14:40) - Paul now turns his attention to issues regarding public worship in 1 Corinthians 11:2 to 1 Corinthians 14:40. These directives on public worship in the Church will stand in direct contrast to the heathen forms of public worship in their pagan temples, which has been dealt with in the previous passages of this Epistle. Remember in the Old Testament how the priests and Levites had to sanctify themselves before entering into the service of the Tabernacle and Temple. Therefore, Paul uses this same approach for the New Testament Church. He first discusses the order of divine authority within the church, with most of his emphasis upon the role of women ( 1 Corinthians 11:2-16). Paul then deals with the ordinance of the Lord's Supper by correcting some abuses in order to bring unity among the believers at Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). With these two areas of public worship set in order, the gifts of the Spirit are able to operate among the believers. Therefore, Paul takes a great deal of time to discuss the operation of the gifts of the Spirit during public worship ( 1 Corinthians 12:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40).
1. The Order of Divine Authority ( 1 Corinthians 11:2-16) - In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul attempts to set in order the roles of men and women in the church. He first explains the order of divine authority that God has placed within the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 11:2-3). Paul then explained this order by using an example from their culture ( 1 Corinthians 11:4-6). He then uses examples of creation to further this argument ( 1 Corinthians 11:7-16).
In this passage Paul seems make more comments in this passage on public assembly about the woman than the man. We can imagine a city with a thousand temple prostitutes where Paul saw the need to make a clear distinction between heathen prostitutes and God-fearing women in church. We can also see these small congregations meeting in house churches. This would cause the believers to ask if the women should dress as they would in their private houses, or should they dress as in public. In the Jewish culture women did not join the men in public worship; rather, it was conducted by men and boys. In Herod's Temple the women had a separate court apart from the men. But in Greek culture, the women had greater freedom. In Corinth, the women were a part of temple worship. Thus, Paul deals with this issue immediately after his discussion on heathen worship that involved fornication and foods offered to idols.
2. The Ordinance of the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-34) - In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Paul deals with the issue of abuses of the Lord's Supper. Such abuse was probably the result of divisions within the church. It became the custom at Corinth for members to bring their own food and drink and join some congenial group to share it with, leaving the poorer members without. Again, Paul deals with this issue immediately after his discussion on heathen forms of worship that involve fornication and foods offered to idols. In this section Paul will explain how they are abusing this ordinance ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-22), then explain the meaning and purpose of the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), and finally tell them the consequences of abusing it ( 1 Corinthians 11:27-34).
a) The Abuse of the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-22) - In this section Paul will explain how they are abusing this ordinance ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-22). He will then explain the meaning and purpose of the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), and finally tell them the consequences of abusing it ( 1 Corinthians 11:27-34).
Paul accuses the Corinthians of being divided during this supper, rather than united, turning the Lord's Supper into a regular festival, rather than a testimony in honor of Jesus' death, resurrection and Second Coming. We can imagine a slave eating next to his master, something which did not happen in the domestic home or workplace. Yet, in the congregation, these divisions were to be laid aside, and unity was to bring a strong bond of peace and love among the church members. Instead, this event was causing divisions rather than unity.
b) The Purpose of the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) - In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Paul will explain the purpose of the Lord's Supper. He has just told them how they are abusing this ordinance ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-22), and he will finally tell them the consequences of abusing it ( 1 Corinthians 11:27-34). In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Paul explains the meaning of the Lord's Supper because this sacred ordinance was being abused by the Corinthian church. It was an act of renewing a believer's covenant with God, which one initially makes at the time of being born again by confession Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of his life.
c) The Consequences of Abusing the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:27-34) - In this section Paul will explain the consequences of abusing the Lord's Supper. He has just told them how they are abusing this ordinance ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-22), and then explained the original meaning and purpose of this ordinance ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). He will now tell the Corinthians the consequences of the abuse of this holy sacrament.
3. Spiritual Gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40) - In 1 Corinthians 12:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 Paul teaches the church at Corinth about the operations of the gifts of the Spirit. Although chapters 12-14deal at length with the operation of the gifts of Spirit, other churches founded by Paul operated in these gifts as well. We note in Acts 20:23 that "the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city," which means that the gifts of utterance were operating in every church that Paul was visiting.
Also, it is important to note that Paul deals with unity in the body of Christ in the first eleven chapters before he teaches on the operation and manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in chapters 12-14. One reason is that the love walk that Paul emphasizes in chapter 13must be in a person's life in order to maintain the work of the Holy Spirit. When we stop walking in love, the Holy Spirit eventually stops manifesting in and through our lives.
a) The Spiritual Gifts Explained ( 1 Corinthians 12:1-31) - In 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 Paul the apostle will explain the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians.
i) The Diversity of the Gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:1-11) - Paul begins this lengthy discourse on the operation of the gifts of the Spirit by explaining their diversity ( 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). He will follow this discussion by explaining their unity and how they work together in perfect unity in the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:12-31).
ii) The Unity of the Gifts of the Spirit in the Body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-31) - After explaining the diversity of the gifts of the Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 12:1-11), Paul then begins to explain how God's operations are in unity and agreement and how they work together for the good of all. God's operations do not conflict and bring divisions and conflicting teachings.
b) The Motive of the Operation of the Gifts of the Spirit: The Law of Love ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-13) - In each of Paul's topics where he explains to the Corinthians how to behave in Christian conduct, he always leaves them with a principle statement to use as a guideline. The law of love will be the guideline for the operation of the gifts of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Paul the apostle will clearly show us the rule by which a work will abide with eternal rewards. He spoke about this law earlier in this epistle in 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. That rule is the law of love.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15, "Every man"s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man"s work of what sort it is. If any man"s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man"s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
Here is a proposed outline:
i) Works Without Love ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3) - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 explains that if our works are not motivated by love, then that work will not abide as a work of love; and we understand from other passages ( 1 Corinthians 3:11-15) that we will receive no eternal reward for such self-centered behaviour. If our works are not motivated from a heart of love, the work will be burned up when it is judged. If we give out of compulsion or guilt, it is not an act of genuine love.
ii) The Characteristics of Love ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 give us a list of actions that testify to the love walk. Paul has just explained in the previous verses ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3) how operating in the gifts of the spirit are not a true sign of the walking in love, neither is the giving of our goods nor the sacrifice of our lives the true evidence of love. When a person exhibits patience, kindness, contentment, humility, gentleness, seeking the well-being of others, temperance, peace, purity, joy, longsuffering, faith and hope, as well as consistency and all of these virtues, then one can truly know that a person is motivated by love. The expanded description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 can be summarized as "labours of love," a phrase used in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. That Isaiah, it takes effort to walk in love.
1 Thessalonians 1:3, "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;"
iii) Love's Eternal Pre-eminence ( 1 Corinthians 13:8-13) - In 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Paul explains how the love walk has been always been preeminent in the life of a righteous person. Love was what undergirded the lifestyle of a man who walked righteous before God long before and long after the gifts of the Spirit will be in operation in our lives.
c) The Gifts of Utterance ( 1 Corinthians 14:1-40) - 1 Corinthians 14:1-40 discusses the manifestation of the three gifts of utterance, prophecy, tongues and the interpretation of tongues, and how they should operate in a church service. Paul spends much more time on these three gifts of utterance because they are the most easily abused. In other words, the three gifts of revelation and the three power gifts are not easily misused simply because it becomes immediately apparent when they are inaccurate. It is clear when a person is not healed, or when a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom is wrong. But a tongue, interpretation, or a prophecy is not so easily judged. Thus, Paul gives the church some basic guidelines on the gifts of utterance. Paul first explains how the gift of prophecy has priority over the gift of tongues, unless it is accompanied with an interpretation, because its objective is to edify the believers ( 1 Corinthians 14:1-19). Thus, prophecy is for believers, while the gift of tongues is for unbelievers ( 1 Corinthians 14:20-25). Paul then gives some guidelines on how to use these three gifts of utterance in the assembly ( 1 Corinthians 14:25-27). He concludes with a general guideline that everything is to be done decently and in order ( 1 Corinthians 14:36-40).
i) The Priority of Prophecy ( 1 Corinthians 14:1-19) - In 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 Paul explains that the gift of prophecy is more important than tongues in public worship, unless it is accompanied by the gift of utterance. In that case, tongues and interpretation are equivalent to prophecy.
ii) The Purpose of the Gifts ( 1 Corinthians 14:20-25) - In 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 Paul explains the purpose of the gifts of utterance in public worship.
iii) The Practice of the Gifts ( 1 Corinthians 14:26-35) - In 1 Corinthians 14:26-35 Paul explains how the gifts of utterance are practiced in the local church.
iv) Conclusion ( 1 Corinthians 14:36-40) - In 1 Corinthians 14:36-40 Paul concludes his lengthy discussion on the gifts of utterance in public worship by giving them some guiding principles. After stating his authority in this matter ( 1 Corinthians 14:36-38) he states the principle that prophecy is to be most desired, but tongues are also a part of public worship ( 1 Corinthians 14:39). In the uses of these gifts of utterance, he gives the principle that care must be exercised to express them in a respectful and orderly manner ( 1 Corinthians 14:40).
V. Glorification (The Resurrection of the Saints) ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-58) - In 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 Paul the apostle discusses the redemption, or glorification, of the Church at Christ's Second Coming. Our resurrection with a glorified body is the final stage in the sanctification of our mortal bodies. Because of the primary theme of this epistle being the sanctification of the believer, Paul explains the resurrection of the saints from the perspective of the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit rather than from the perspective of Jesus' return in clouds of glory. Thus, we learn that at Christ's Coming the Holy Spirit's role is to raise the saints from the dead and transform our mortal bodies into immortality. Thus, this chapter places emphasis upon the resurrection of the saints, which is the role of the Holy Spirit at the Second Coming. Also, in following a thematic scheme, or structure, of this epistle, we can note that the purpose of our sanctification discussed in the preceding chapters is to get us ready for the resurrection of the saints.
1. Testimonies of Christ's Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) - In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul offers a list of testimonies of Christ's resurrection, a declaration he has made when preaching the Gospel throughout his ministry ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-2). He will offer the testimony of Scriptures regarding the resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), then a list of eye-witnesses: Cephas ( 1 Corinthians 15:5 a), the Twelve apostles' first witness ( 1 Corinthians 15:5 b), the five hundred disciples ( 1 Corinthians 15:6), James ( 1 Corinthians 15:7 a), the Twelve apostles' second witness ( 1 Corinthians 15:7 b), and Paul himself ( 1 Corinthians 15:8-10). All of these witnesses testify to the same message in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:11).
a) Paul's Gospel ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-2) - In 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Paul declares he has delivered the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the churches under his care, a Gospel that has been verified by a number of witnesses.
b) The Testimony of Scripture to Christ's Sacrificial Death and Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-4) - 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 gives us the testimony of Scripture to support Paul's Gospel of Christ's resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-2). This will be followed by a list of eye witnesses ( 1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
c) The Testimony of the Eye-witnesses to Christ's Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:5-10) - After citing the testimony of Scripture regarding Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), Paul gives us a list of eye-witnesses to this event. This list is not exhaustive, since it does not list the women at the tomb nor the two on the road to Emmaus. Many witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus were alive during Paul's day to back up his testimony of Christ's resurrection. Paul knew that in the multitude of witnesses a matter is confirmed ( 2 Corinthians 13:1).
2 Corinthians 13:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."
d) The Same Gospel, the Same Faith ( 1 Corinthians 15:11) - Paul concludes that the Gospel he has preached ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-2), being verified by the Scriptures ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), and by numerous eye-witness accounts ( 1 Corinthians 15:5-10), is the same Gospel, so that all have the same faith in Jesus Christ.
2. The Necessity of Christ's Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:12-28) - In 1 Corinthians 15:12-28 Paul explains the necessity of the resurrection of Christ Jesus. His resurrection was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins ( 1 Corinthians 15:12-19) and for our future resurrection and redemption ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
a) The Necessity of Christ's Resurrection for the Forgiveness of Our Sins ( 1 Corinthians 15:12-19) - 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 explains that the resurrection of Christ was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins. Thus, this passage of Scripture gives the negative consequences of what would happen if there were no resurrection:
i) 1 Corinthians 15:13 - Christ has not risen.
ii) 1 Corinthians 15:14 - Our preaching and our faith is in vain.
iii) 1 Corinthians 15:15 - We are false witnesses.
iv) 1 Corinthians 15:16 - Christ has not risen. (a repeat of verse 13)
v) 1 Corinthians 15:17 - We are yet in our sins and our faith is worthless.
vi) 1 Corinthians 15:18 - Those fallen asleep have perished.
vii) 1 Corinthians 15:19 - We, of all men, are most miserable.
b) The Necessity of Christ's Resurrection for Our Future Redemption: The Order of the Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-28) - In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul explains how the resurrection of Christ was necessary for the atonement of man's sins. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 Paul explains how the resurrection of Christ was necessary for man's future redemption. This passage of Scripture reveals the order of the resurrection:
i) Christ, the Firstfruits ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 b)
ii) The Church 1 Corinthians 15:23 c
iii) The Kingdom Established 1 Corinthians 15:24-25
iv) Death Destroyed 1 Corinthians 15:26
v) Christ Restored to His Glory 1 Corinthians 15:27-28
3. The Hope of the Believer's Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:29-34) - In 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 Paul explains how the hope of the believer's resurrection is the basis for some religious sacraments, for his daily sacrifices, and for the believer's sanctification.
4. The Image of Our Resurrected Body ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-49) - In 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 Paul explains the transformation of our bodies at the resurrection of the saints.
5. The Assurance of Our Resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:50-58) - In 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Paul offers the believers in Corinth the assurance of their resurrection.
VI. The Collection for the Saints ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-11) - In 1 Corinthians 16:1-11 Paul gives instructions to the Corinthians on the collection for the saints. He first tells them how to make the collection ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-4), then he lays out his itinerary for visiting them in the near future in order to make a final pass through this region to take up this collection that would be brought back to the poor saints in Jerusalem ( 1 Corinthians 16:5-9). He also includes Timothy's travel plans since he will prepare for Paul's arrival ( 1 Corinthians 16:10-11). One purpose of this offering was to maintain unity between the Palestinian Jewish converts and the Gentile church abroad; for there were some Judaizers who had tried to bring negative reports about Paul's work to the church and the Jews in Jerusalem.
A. Instructions on Giving ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-4) - In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Paul gives the Corinthians practical instructions on how to gather the offering for the saints in Jerusalem.
B. Paul's Travel Plans for the Collection ( 1 Corinthians 16:5-9 ) - In 1 Corinthians 16:5-9 Paul explains his travel plans in order to collect the offering for the saints in Jerusalem.
C. Paul's Charge Concerning Timothy ( 1 Corinthians 16:10-11) - In 1 Corinthians 16:10-11 Paul charges the Corinthian church to receive young Timothy. He says, "Let no man therefore despise him." We see Paul also tell Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth." Thus, the motive for any possible rejection of Timothy by the Corinthians may have been in part due to his youth.
1 Timothy 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
VII. Closing Remarks ( 1 Corinthians 16:12-24) - Paul then informs them of the work of Apollos as it relates to them ( 1 Corinthians 16:12). In 1 Corinthians 16:13-18 Paul gives them a final exhortation to work together in unity. In 1 Corinthians 16:19-21 Paul gives closing greetings from the believers in Asia. He then closes with a final benediction and assures them of his unfailing love for them after having given them words of correction ( 1 Corinthians 16:22-24).
A. News Concerning Apollos ( 1 Corinthians 16:12) - In 1 Corinthians 16:12 Paul gives the Corinthians an update of the ministry of Apollos.
B. Final Exhortation ( 1 Corinthians 16:13-18) - In 1 Corinthians 16:13-18 Paul offers the Corinthians some final exhortations.
C. Final Greeting ( 1 Corinthians 16:19-21) - In 1 Corinthians 16:19-21 Paul sends his final greetings to the Corinthians from his companions in Asia before closing the epistle with a benediction.
D. Final Benediction ( 1 Corinthians 16:22-24) - In 1 Corinthians 16:22-24 Paul writes the final benediction to his first epistle to the Corinthians.
XI. Outline of Book
The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the epistle of 1Corinthians: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of 1Corinthians. This journey through 1Corinthians will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to walk in unity and love within the body of Christ so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through their lives to minister to others.
I. Introduction — 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
A. Salutation— 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
B. Predestination: Thanksgiving— 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
II. Calling: Exhortation to Unity— 1 Corinthians 1:10-31
A. The Report from the Household of Chloe — 1 Corinthians 1:10-12
B. Exhortation to Unity — 1 Corinthians 1:13-17
C. The Preaching of the Cross — 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
III. Justification— 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
IV. Sanctification— 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40
A. Divisions in the Church (Mental)— 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:21
1. The Carnality of Strife and Divisions— 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
2. The Unity of Christian Ministry— 1 Corinthians 3:5-17
a) The Analogy of Husbandry — 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
b) The Analogy of a House— 1 Corinthians 3:10-17
c) The Analogy of the Temple— 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
3. Warnings on Boasting in Men— 1 Corinthians 3:18-23
4. The Stewardship of Christian Ministry— 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
5. Evidences of Paul's Stewardship— 1 Corinthians 4:6-13
6. Paul's Spiritual Authority over the Corinthians— 1 Corinthians 4:14-21
B. Fornication in the Church (Physical)— 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 6:20
1. Paul judges fornication in the church — 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
2. Paul explains the church's authority to judge— 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
3. Why fornication must be judged— 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
4. Marriage in the Church — 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
a) Advice to the Unmarried and Widows— 1 Corinthians 7:1-9
b) Advice to the Married— 1 Corinthians 7:10-24
i) Stay Married, if Possible— — 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
ii) Between Believer & Non-believer— — 1 Corinthians 7:12-16
iii) Abiding in One's Divine Calling— 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
c) Advice to Virgins— 1 Corinthians 7:25-38
d) Advice to Widows— 1 Corinthians 7:39-40
C. Idolatry and Foods Offered to Idols —(Spiritual)— 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1
1. Eating Meat Offered to Idols — 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
a) Knowledge vs. Love— 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
b) Knowledge about Idols— 1 Corinthians 8:4-6
c) Love for Weaker Brethren— 1 Corinthians 8:7-13
2. Example: Paul's Carefulness not to Offend — 1 Corinthians 9:1-27
a) Paul Explains His Apostleship Over the Corinthians — 1 Corinthians 9:1-14
b) Paul's Carefulness in Using His Privileges — 1 Corinthians 9:15-27
3. Example: The Idolatry of Israel — 1 Corinthians 10:1-14
4. Example: The Lord's Table — 1 Corinthians 10:15-22
5. Conclusion — 1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1
D. Public Worship— 1 Corinthians 11:2 to 1 Corinthians 14:40
1. The Order of Divine Authority — 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
2. The Ordinance of the Lord's Supper— 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
a) The Abuse— 1 Corinthians 11:17-22
b) The Purpose— 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
c) The Consequences of Abuse— 1 Corinthians 11:27-34
3. Spiritual Gifts — 1 Corinthians 12:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40
a) The Spiritual Gifts Explained— 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
i) The Diversity of the Gifts— 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
ii) The Unity of the Gifts— 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
b) The Motive of their Operation — 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
i) Works Without Love— 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
ii) The Characteristics of Love— 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
iii) Love's Eternal Pre-eminence— 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
c) The Gifts of Utterance— 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
i) The Priority of Prophecy— 1 Corinthians 14:1-19
ii) The Purpose of the Gifts— 1 Corinthians 14:20-25
iii) The Practice of the Gifts — 1 Corinthians 14:26-35
iv) Conclusion— 1 Corinthians 14:36-40
V. Glorification (The Resurrection of the Saints)— 1 Corinthians 15:1-58
A. Testimonies of Christ's Resurrection— 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
1. Paul's Gospel— 1 Corinthians 15:1-2—
2. The Testimony of Scripture— 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
3. Eye-Witness Testimonies— 1 Corinthians 15:5-10
a) Cephas— 1 Corinthians 15:5 a
b) The Twelve Apostles— 1 Corinthians 15:5 b
c) The Five Hundred Disciples— 1 Corinthians 15:6
d) James— 1 Corinthians 15:7 a
e) The Twelve Apostles— 1 Corinthians 15:7 b
f) Paul— 1 Corinthians 15:8-10
4. The Same Gospel, the Same Faith— 1 Corinthians 15:11
B. The Necessity of Christ's Resurrection — 1 Corinthians 15:12-28—
1. For the Forgiveness of Our Sins— 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
2. For Future Redemption (Order of the Resurrection)— 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
a) Christ, the Firstfruits— 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 b
b) The Church— 1 Corinthians 15:23 c
c) The Kingdom Established— 1 Corinthians 15:24-25
d) Death Destroyed— 1 Corinthians 15:26
e) Christ Restored to His Glory— 1 Corinthians 15:27-28
C. The Hope of the Believer's Resurrection— 1 Corinthians 15:29-34
1. The Basis for some Religious Sacraments— 1 Corinthians 15:29
2. The Basis for Paul's Daily Sacrifice— 1 Corinthians 15:30-32
3. The Basis for Our Sanctification — 1 Corinthians 15:33-34
D. The Image of Our Resurrected Body— 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
E. The Assurance of Our Resurrection— 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
VI. The Collection for the Saints — 1 Corinthians 16:1-11
A. Instructions on Giving— 1 Corinthians 16:1-4
B. Paul's Travel Plans for the Collection— 1 Corinthians 16:5-9
C. Paul's Charge Concerning Timothy— 1 Corinthians 16:10-11
VII. Closing Remarks — 1 Corinthians 16:12-24
A. News Concerning Apollos— 1 Corinthians 16:12
B. Final Exhortation — 1 Corinthians 16:13-18
C. Final Greeting— 1 Corinthians 16:19-21
D. Final Benediction— 1 Corinthians 16:22-24
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the First Week after Epiphany