1 Corinthians
The Bible Book by Book
The City of Corinth. It contained 400,000 inhabitants and was the chief city of Greece when Paul visited it, being situated on a large isthmus where the commerce of the world passed. The inhabitants were Greeks, Jews, Italians and a mixed multitude from everywhere. Sailors, merchants, adventurers and refugees from all the world crowded the city, bringing with them the evils of every country, out of which grew many forms of human degradation. Religion and philosopy had been prostituted to low uses. Intellectual life was put above moral life, and the future life was denied that they might enjoy the present life without restraint.

The Church at Corinth. It was founded by Paul on the second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-18). His spirit in founding the church is seen in 1 Cor. 2:1-2. While there Paul made his home with Aquila and Priscilla, Jews who had been expelled from Rome (Acts 18:2-3), but who now became members of the church. Apollos preached to this church and aided it in Paul's absence (18:24-28; 19:1). Both Epistles are full of information as to the condition of the church and the many problems which hit had to face from time to time. It must be remembered that Corinth was one of the most wicked cities of ancient times and that the church was surrounded by heathen customs and practices. Many of its members had but recently been converted from heathenism to Christianity and the church was far from ideal.

First Corinthians.

The Occasion and Purpose of the Letter. Unfavorable news had come to Paul concerning the Corinthian church and he had written them a letter (5:9) which has been lost. In that letter he seems to have commanded them to give up their evil practices and promised to visit them. In the meantime, members of the household of Chloe(1:11) and other friends (16:17) came to him at Ephesus and brought news of their divisions and of the evil practices of certain of their members. Finally, they wrote him a letter asking his advice on certain matters (7:1). From all this we learn (1) that there were four factions among them, 1:2; (2) that there was gross immorality in the church as in the case of the incestuous person, Ch. 5; (3) that they went to law with each other, Ch. 6; (4) that many practical matters troubled them. Paul, therefore, wrote to correct all these errors in doctrine and practice.

Content. This letter contains some of the greatest passages in the New Testament. It is, however, remarkable especially for the very practical nature of its contents. It deals with many of the problems of every day life and has been said not to discuss but one great doctrine, that of the resurrection.

Date. From Ephesus in the spring of A. D. 57.


Introduction, 1:1-9.

I. Concerning Divisions and the Party Spirit. 1:10-4.

Divisions are prevented:

1. By Christ as the center of Christianity, 1:10 end.

2. By spiritual mindedness, 2:1-3:4.

3. By a right view of preachers, 3:5-4 end.

II. Correction of Moral Disorders, Chs. 5-6.

1. The incestuous person, Ch. 5.

2. Lawsuits, 6:1-11.

3. Sins of the body, 6;12 end.

III. Answers to Questions and Cognate Matters, 7:1-16:4.

1. Concerning marriage and celibacy, Ch. 7.

2. Concerning things offered to idols. 8:1-11:1.

3. Concerning head dress, 11:2-16.

4. Concerning the Lord's supper, 11:17 end.

5. Concerning spiritual gifts, Chs. 12-14.

6. Concerning the resurrection, Ch. 15.

7. Concerning collections for the saints, 16:1-4.

IV. Personal Matters and Conclusion, 16:5 end.

For Study and Discussion. (1) Earthly wisdom and heavenly foolishness, 1:18-25. (2) Spiritual wisdom, 2:7-16. (3) Paul's apostolic labors, 4:9-13. (4) The scripture estimate of the human body, 6:12-20. (5) Marriages and divorce, 7:25-50, letting "virgin" mean any single person, male or female. (6) Paul's practice in the matter of his rights, 9:1-23. (7) The Christian race, 9:24-27. (8) Love and its nature, Ch. 13. (a) Superior to other gifts, 1-3. (b) Its ten marks, 4-6. (c) Its power, 7. (d) Its permanence, 8-13. (9) Spiritual gifts, Chs. 12-14. Name and describe them. (10) The resurrection, Ch. 15. (a) Calamities to result, if there were none-or the other doctrines here made to depend on the resurrection; (b) The nature of the resurrected body.

For the Outline Study of the Bible by Books by J.B. TIDELL, A.M., D.D. Professor of Biblical Literature in Baylor University, Waco, Texas
1 Corinthians 1. Greetings and Thanksgiving; Exhortation to Unity; We preach Christ crucified
1. After his salutation and thanksgiving for the Corinthians,
10. Paul exhorts them to unity,
12. and reproves their dissensions.
18. God destroys the wisdom of the wise,
21. by the foolishness of preaching;
26. and calls not the wise, mighty, and noble,
28. but the foolish, weak, and men of no account.
1 Corinthians 2. Reliance upon the Holy Spirit
1. Paul declares that his preaching,
4. though it bring not excellence of speech, or of human wisdom,
5. yet consists in the power of God;
6. and so far excels the wisdom of this world, that the natural man cannot understand it.
1 Corinthians 3. Christ as the Foundation; Rebuke for Divisions
1. Milk is fit for children.
3. Strife and division, arguments of a fleshly mind.
7. He who plants and He who waters are nothing.
9. The ministers are God's fellow workmen.
11. Christ the only foundation.
16. You are the temples of God, which must be kept holy.
19. The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
1 Corinthians 4. Apostles Are Servants of Christ
1. In what account the apostles ought to be regarded.
7. We have nothing which we have not received.
9. The apostles spectacles to the world, angels, and men;
13. the filth and offscouring of the world;
15. yet our fathers in Christ;
16. whom we ought to follow.
1 Corinthians 5. Expel the Wicked Man
1. The sexual immorality person,
6. is cause rather of shame unto them than of rejoicing.
7. The old leaven is to be purged out.
10. Heinous offenders are to be shamed and avoided.
1 Corinthians 6. Lawsuits between Believers; Honor God with Your Body
1. The Corinthians must take their brothers to court;
6. especially under infidels.
9. The wicked shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
15. Our bodies are the members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit:
19. they must not therefore be defiled.
1 Corinthians 7. Paul's Instructions on Marriage
1. He discusses marriage;
4. showing it to be a remedy against sinful desires,
10. and that the bond thereof ought not lightly to be dissolved.
20. Every man must be content with his vocation.
25. Virginity wherefore to be embraced;
35. and for what respects we may either marry, or abstain from marrying.
1 Corinthians 8. Take Care with your Freedom in Christ
1. To abstain from food offered to idols.
8. We must not abuse our Christian liberty, to the offense of our brothers;
11. but must bridle our knowledge with charity.
1 Corinthians 9. The Rights of an Apostle
1. He shows his liberty;
7. and that the minister ought to receive a living by the Gospel;
15. yet that himself has of his own accord abstained,
18. to be neither chargeable unto them,
22. nor offensive unto any, in matters indifferent.
24. Our life is like unto a race.
1 Corinthians 10. Warning to Avoid Israel's Fate and flee from Idolatry; Freedom of believers
1. The sacraments of the Jews are types of ours;
7. and their punishments,
11. examples for us.
13. We must flee from idolatry.
21. We must not make the Lord's table the table of demons;
24. and in all things we must have regard for our brothers.
1 Corinthians 11. Reverence in Worship; The Lord's Supper
1. He reproves them, because in holy assemblies,
4. their men prayed with their heads covered,
6. and women with their heads uncovered;
17. and because generally their meetings were not for the better, but for the worse;
21. as, namely, in profaning with their own feast the Lord's supper.
25. Lastly, he calls them to the first institution thereof.
1 Corinthians 12. Spiritual Gifts; One Body Made Up of Many Parts
1. Spiritual gifts,
4. are diverse,
7. yet to profit all.
8. And to that end are diversely bestowed;
12. as the members of a natural body tend all to the mutual decency,
22. service,
26. and helpfulness of the same body;
27. so we should do for one another, to make up the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 13. The Greatest of these is Love
1. All gifts,
3. however excellent, are of no worth without love.
4. The praises thereof,
13. as love is greatest before hope and faith.
1 Corinthians 14. Prophecy and Tongues; Orderly Worship
1. Prophecy is commended,
2. and preferred before speaking in tongues,
6. by a comparison drawn from musical instruments.
12. Both must be referred to edification,
22. as to their true and proper end.
26. The true use of each is taught,
27. and the abuse rebuked.
34. Women in the churches.
1 Corinthians 15. The Resurrection of Christ, the Dead and the Body
1. By Christ's resurrection,
12. he proves the necessity of our resurrection,
16. against all such as deny the resurrection of the body.
21. The fruit,
35. and the manner thereof;
51. and of the resurrection of those who shall be found alive at the last day.
1 Corinthians 16. Gifts, Requests and Greetings
1. He exhorts them to a collection for the brothers at Jerusalem.
10. Commends Timothy;
13. and after friendly admonitions,
16. concludes his epistle with various salutations.
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