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- 1 Corinthians
by Joseph Parker
"This varied and highly characteristic letter was addressed not to any party, but to the whole body of the large ( Act 18:8-10 ) Judæo-Gentile ( Act 18:4 ) church of Corinth, and appears to have been called forth, 1st, by the information the Apostle had received from members of the household of Chloe ( 1Co 1:11 ), of the divisions that were existing among them, which were of so grave a nature as to have already induced the Apostle to desire Timothy to visit Corinth ( 1Co 4:17 ) after his journey to Macedonia ( Act 19:22 ); 2ndly, by the information he had received of a grievous case of incest ( 1Co 5:1 ), and of the defective state of the Corinthian converts, not only in regard of general habits (1 Corinthians 6:1 , sq. ) and Church discipline (1 Corinthians 11:20 , sq. ), but, as it would also seem, of doctrine (1 Corinthians 15:0 ); 3rdly, by the inquiries that had been specially addressed to St. Paul by the Church of Corinth on several matters relating to Christian practice.
"The contents of this Epistle are thus extremely varied. The Apostle opens with his usual salutation and with an expression of thankfulness for their general state of Christian progress ( 1Co 1:1-9 ). He then at once passes on to the lamentable divisions there were among them, and incidentally justifies his own conduct and mode of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:10 , 1Co 4:16 ), concluding with a notice of the mission of Timothy, and of an intended authoritative visit on his own part ( 1Co 4:17-21 ). The Apostle next deals with the case of incest that had taken place among them, and had provoked no censure ( 1Co 5:1-8 ), noticing, as he passes, some previous remarks he had made upon not keeping company with fornicators ( 1Co 5:9-13 ). He then comments on their evil practice of litigation before heathen tribunals ( 1Co 6:1-8 ), and again reverts to the plague-spot in Corinthian life, fornication and uncleanness ( 1Co 6:9-20 ). The last subject naturally paves the way for his answers to their inquiries about marriage ( 1Co 7:1-24 ), and about the celibacy of virgins and widows ( 1Co 7:25-40 ). The Apostle next makes a transition to the subject of the lawfulness of eating things sacrificed to idols, and Christian freedom generally (1 Corinthians 8:0 ), which leads, not unnaturally, to a digression on the manner in which he waived his Apostolic privileges, and performed his Apostolic duties (1 Corinthians 9:0 ). He then reverts to and concludes the subject of the use of things offered to idols ( 1Co 10:1 to 1Co 11:1 ), and passes onward to reprove his converts for their behaviour in the assemblies of the Church, both in respect to women prophesying and praying with uncovered heads ( 1Co 11:2-16 ), and also their great irregularities in the celebration of the Lord's Supper ( 1Co 11:17-34 ). Then follow full and minute instructions on the exercise of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14), in which is included the noble panegyric of charity (1 Corinthians 13:0 ), and further a defence of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, about which doubts and difficulties appear to have arisen in this unhappily divided church (1 Corinthians 15:0 ), The Epistle closes with some directions concerning the contributions for the saints at Jerusalem ( 1Co 16:1-4 ), brief notices of his own intended movements ( 1Co 16:5-9 ), commendation to them of Timothy and others ( 1Co 16:10-18 ), greetings from the churches ( 1Co 16:19-20 ), and an autograph salutation and benediction ( 1Co 16:21-24 )." Smith's Dictionary of the Bible.]
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25