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Getting to Know the Bible: 1 Corinthians Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on 1 Corinthians. But before we get to 1 Corinthians 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of 1 Corinthians. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of 1 Corinthians, as we prepare to behold and discern 1 Corinthians, beginning with 1 Corinthians 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: Second Pauline Epistle; the seventh book of the New Testament; the forty-sixth book of the Bible.

Authors: Paul, along with Sosthenes, as noted in 1 Corinthians 1:1. Sosthenes was most likely acting as Paul's secretary (also called an amanuensis)

Date of Writing: ~A.D. 55

Audience: Gentile Christians living in Corinth

Theme: Immorality in the Church

Original Language: Greek

Title: Pauline Epistle

Purpose of Writing: First Corinthians contains a frank discussion of the church and the issues that impacted real people in the first century. The Corinthian church was corroded with sin on a variety of fronts, so Paul provided an important model for how the church should handle the problem of sin in its midst. Rather than turn a blind eye toward relational division and all kinds of immorality, he addressed the problems head on. In his bold call to purity within the Corinthian church, Paul made it clear that he was willing to risk the good opinion of some in order to help cleanse the sin that tainted the church.

Summary: The city of Corinth was at the heart of an important trade route in the ancient world. Like many cities that thrive on trade, Corinth had a reputation for sexual immorality, religious diversity, and corruption. The church that Paul planted there (Acts 18) floundered under all of these influences and began to divide over various issues. First Corinthians addresses many practical questions dividing the church-questions concerning such things as spiritual gifts, marriage, food offered to idols, and the resurrection. Paul urged the Corinthians to be unified and to give themselves fully to "the work of the Lord" (15:58). Chapter 13 includes a well-known passage on the nature and importance of love.

Overview: First Corinthians includes sixteen chapters which fall loosely into seven sections. After a brief introduction, Paul emphasizes disunity in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:10—4:21). His teachings called them to return to the unity they had when he first founded the church (1 Corinthians 1:10—3:23), while also emphasizing the importance of serving one another (1 Corinthians 4).

The second section addresses the difficult topic of sexual immorality within the church as well as lawsuits between believers (1 Corinthians 5—6). Chapter 5 specifically addresses a believer who was having sexual relations with his stepmother, while the church tolerated the practice.

The third section discusses the importance of marriage among Christians (1 Corinthians 7). Paul provides guidelines both for those single and married, as well as details related to divorce to answer questions that had surfaced among the believes in this congregation.

The fourth section develops the concept of Christian liberty within the church (1 Corinthians 8:1—11:1). Chapter 8 addresses food sacrificed to idols. Chapter 10 addresses the sin of idolatry.

The fifth section transitions to problems within the worship gatherings of the church (1 Corinthians 11:2—14:40). Three major areas are addressed. First Corinthians 11:2–16 discusses the roles of men and women in church. First Corinthians 11:17–34 corrects the wrongful ways in which these believers were practicing the Lord's Supper, and offers positive alternatives. Chapters 12—14 address spiritual gifts, adding the famous love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to address the most important gift of all.

The sixth section focuses on the hope of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). Paul discusses the appearances and evidences for Christ's salvation, followed by a discussion of the future resurrection of believers.

The seventh section includes Paul's closing words to the church (1 Corinthians 16). He addresses their plans for financial gifts (1 Corinthians 16:1–4) as well as his own personal plans with hopes to visit them again in the future.

Application: The Book of 1 Corinthians very well could have been written to the church today and we would do well to heed Paul’s warnings and apply them to ourselves. Despite all the rebukes and corrections, 1 Corinthians brings our focus back to where it should be—on Christ. Genuine Christian love is the answer to many problems (chapter 13). A proper understanding of the resurrection of Christ, as revealed in chapter 15, and thereby a proper understanding of our own resurrection, is the cure for what divides and defeats us.

Key Verses (ESV):

1 Corinthians 3:3: "For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

"1 Corinthians 6:19–20: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

"1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

"1 Corinthians 10:31: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

"1 Corinthians 13:4–7: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

"1 Corinthians 15:3–8: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."

*Note: The city of Corinth was one of the dominant commercial centers of the Mediterranean world as early as the 8th Century B.C. It was a thriving city; at the time the chief city of Greece both commercially and politically. With a high, strong citadel at its back, it lay between the Saronic Gulf and the Ionian Sea, with ports at Lechaion and Cenchrea. A diolkos, or stone road for the overland transport of ships, linked the two seas. Crowning the Acrocorinth was the temple of Aphrodite, served, according to Strabo, by more than 1,000 pagan priestess-prostitutes.

In chapter 10 of the Book of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness to illustrate to the Corinthian believers the folly of the misuse of freedom and the danger of overconfidence. Paul has just warned the Corinthians about their lack of self-discipline (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). He goes on to describe the Israelites who, despite seeing God’s miracles and care for them—the parting of the Red Sea, the miraculous provision of manna from heaven and water from a rock—they misused their freedom, rebelled against God, and fell into immorality and idolatry. Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to note the example of the Israelites and avoid lusts and sexual immorality (vv. 6-8) and putting Christ to the test and complaining (vv. 9-10). See Numbers 11:4, 34, 25:1-9; Exodus 16:2, 17:2, 7.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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