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- 1 Corinthians
by Matthew Poole
Corinth (the inhabitants of which are called Corinthians) was an eminent city of Achaia, (that Achaia which is now called the Morea), and was situated on an isthmus, or neck of land, betwixt the Aegean and Ionian Seas; so was very convenient for merchandise, and by merchandise came to great riches, which gave them great temptations to luxury, drunkenness, whoredom, &c. They were very infamous for the latter, as we read in writers, and grown to that impudence, that they made the increase of harlots a part of their prayers to their idols, and made the bringing of harlots into the city a part of their vows. Lais was a harlot amongst them, very famous in civil history. And as pride usually attendeth wealth, so they also were a people very proud and puffed up. They were also anciently famous for pagan learning, and had amongst them Stoics and Epicureans, who laughed at the resurrection of the body, and looked upon incest, adultery, and fornication, as very venial things, if at all unlawful. We read of Paul's first coming thither from Athens, Acts 18:1, where, Acts 16:11, he continued eighteen months; there he converted Crispus, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and Sosthenes, and many believed and were baptized. Paul went from thence to Ephesus, 1 Corinthians 16:18-19. To the church thus planted at Corinth Paul writeth this Epistle, at what time is not certain; but he is thought to have written it from Ephesus, whither he came, Acts 19:1, the second time, and, as appears from 1 Corinthians 1:10, was going and coming to and from that city between two and three years. The occasion of his writing this Epistle will appear to any who consideringly reads it. He had heard from some who were of the house of Chloe, 1 Corinthians 1:11, of factions and contentions that were amongst them, and had heard it reported that they suffered an incestuous person to abide in their communion, 1 Corinthians 5:1. They had also written to him for his resolution in several cases and questions about marriage, divorce, &c. He had also heard of several disorders amongst them relating to their communion in the Lord's supper, and of some amongst them who denied the resurrection. For the allaying of these heats, and quieting their divisions, and for the direction of them in those cases about which they wrote to him, and the setting them right in the doctrine of the resurrection, and directing them in the true and profitable use of their gifts, and in the right celebration of the Lord's supper, and the quickening the exercise of their charity, he writes this Epistle; which is supposed to be placed in our Bibles next to the Epistle to the Romans, (though plainly written in order of time before), because that as that Epistle most fully discourseth the doctrine of justification, so this most fully resolves questions concerning church order and government. It is a book of holy writ concerning the Divine authority of which there was never any doubt, nor hath any portion of holy writ (for the quantity of it) a greater variety of matter, nor more of those δοσνοητα, things hard to be understood, which St. Peter (2 Peter 3:16) tells us are in this apostle's Epistles; the difficulty of which much ariseth from our ignorance of some rites used in the primitive church, but long since disused, and the usages of that country different from ours.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18