The First Epistle to the Corinthians

The contents of this Epistle may be divided into five parts:
I. Condemnation of the Factions in the Church, 1:1--4: 21. After a brief introduction in 1: 1-9 Paul states that he had heard of the divisions among the Corinthians, 1: 11-12. In arguing against these he points out that his conduct was free from party spirit, since this is opposed by the gospel and forbidden by the character of Christ, 1:13-31. Moreover he reminds the Corinthians that his preaching had been free from all partisanship which glories in the wisdom of man, because the gospel is the message of divine wisdom, is revealed by the Spirit and is understood only through the Spirit; white party spirit misapprehends the nature of the ministry, 2: 1--3 : 23. He concludes this argument by pointing to his own example, 4:1-21.

II. The Necessity of Church Discipline urged, 5:1--6: 20. The Corinthians are exhorted to cast out the incestuous person, 5:1-13; to desist from lawsuits before the unrighteous, 6:1-11; and to flee from fornication, 6:12-20.

III. Answer to Inquiries sent from the Church, 7:1--14: 39. Here we find a discussion of the lawfulness of marriage and its duties; directions about mixed marriages and an apostolic advice to the unmarried, 7:1-40. Then follows a discussion of Christian liberty in the participation of food
offered to the idols, in which love must rule, and one must beware of any participation in idolatrous practices. The apostle illustrates this principle at length by pointing to his own example, 8:1--11:
1. Next the place of woman in the assemblies of the church, and the proper observance of the Lord's supper is considered, 11:2-34. And finally the spiritual gifts manifest in the congregation come in
for consideration. Their source and diversity, their functions, the superiority of love over the extraordinary gifts, and of prophecy over the speaking of tongues, and the right service of God,--all
receive due treatment, 12:1--14: 40.

IV. A Discussion of the Resurrection, 15:1-58. The apostle shows that the resurrection of Christ is an essential article of the apostolic testimony, and is the pledge of our resurrection; and answers
various objections, describing the nature of the resurrection body and the final victory over death.

V. Conclusion, 16:1-24. In this chapter the apostle commends to the Corinthians the collection for the saints at Jerusalem, bespeaks a good reception for Timothy, and ends his epistle with friendly
admonitions and salutations.

CHARACTERISTICS
1. This Epistle is the most comprehensive of all the writings of Paul. It is just about as long as
the letter to the Romans, and contains the same number of chapters; but, while the Epistle to the
Romans systematically treats a single theme, this letter discusses a great variety of subjects, such
as party spirit, church discipline, marriage and celibacy, Christian liberty, the place of woman in
the church, the significance and use of the charismata, and the resurrection of the dead. And the
apostle treats of these matters in a very orderly way, first taking up the accusations contained in
the report of those from the household of Chloe, and then answering the questions that were put to
him in the letter sent by the Corinthians.

Leave a Reply