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The First Epistle to the Corinthians is one of Paul's epistles

The First Epistle to the Corinthians or First Corinthians is the first preserved letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Christian Church in the city of Corinth, Greece. The letter is a personal one from Paul to the Corinthian Church sometime after his missions and church planting work in the city. The letter addresses a variety of moral issues the Corinthian Church was facing and responds to an earlier letter from the Corinthian Church (which in turn may have been a reply to Paul's previous letter). Some of the moral issues addressed in the letter are: division of Christian adherents and internal disputes, proper sexuality and marriage; food practice, recongition of idols, and worship customs; usage of spiritual gifts and belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul employs various arguments and logic to show both a Scriptural and ethical stance on the issues presented.

Paul expresses his future desire to have a lengthy visit with the Church and emphasizes his personal thoughts about the Church in Corinth.

Authorship

Author

The author of the "first" epistle to the Corinthians is Paul[1]. This is made abundantly clear throughout the text both explicitly and indirectly. The two clearest identifications of Paul as the author are in the greeting[2] and the closing[3]. In the greeting (a standard amongst Greek letters) Paul identifies himself as the author and gives himself the epithet of "called by God to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ". In the closing Paul uses first person to discuss how he wrote the concluding remarks with his own hand.

In the introduction, Paul identifies a man named Sosthenes as a "co-sender"[4]. Sosthenes was not the author of the letter, but he may be mentioned to show his approval of the letter's content and to identify with an authority figure of the Corinthians. Sosthenes may have been involved with the recording of the letter.

Paul mentions that he wrote the letter with his own hand[3], setting a pattern for future epistles (if he had not begun this already). This makes it apparent that Paul did not actually write down the letter himself, rather the letter was dictated.

Purpose

Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Corinth in order to grow their faith[5], follow up with a letter they had written and to reprove immorality in their church.

Follow Up

The latter two thirds of the book is dedicated to comprehensive answers to all of the concerns of the Corinthian Church in a previous letter[6]. The Church had wrote to Paul seeking his guidance on a variety of issues or making other comments to him. Paul used his letter as an opportunity to respond to their questions. He gave thorough answers that branched off into many sub-arguments that all ultimately gave a complete answer and application to the Corinthians' concerns. Once in the follow up portion of the letter, Paul deviated away from response and gives an exposition about the importance of the Resurrection, a topic chosen by Pau[7].

In his responses Paul distinguished what were purely his views, versus what God had directed[8]. He gave his opinions about many subjects through the guidance of God, but clearly distinguished them from clear commands. While some of the things are his opinions, they are not discounted as being God- inspired or God- breathed; for all Scripture is breathed from God. Nevertheless, since it was a personal letter Paul uses the first person frequently to make commands that are directly affirmed by God.

Addressing Reports

While immorality is addressed through the entirety of the letter, there are two specific types of immorality he addresses on his own: divisions and sexual immorality. Paul learned of the issues through the associates of a woman named Chloe[9].

Divisions

Regarding the divisions[10], Paul gave an exposition that the Christian church should not seek to follow specific teachers of the faith (such as himself, Peter or Apollos), but to be followers of Christ, practitioners of Christianity. Paul makes it clear that he did not write this rebuke to shame the Corinthians, but to uplift them[11].

Primarily, Paul uses reminders of their shared faith and his past visits to address the issue of divisions. By applying his principles to himself (and Apollos), he exhorted the Corinthians to imitate himself (for he was spiritually mature) and to act within the confines of Scripture[12]. He illuminated his readers' naivety by considering them as infants who had to be nursed with milk, rather than solid food[13]. Additionally Paul explains that he had sent Timothy in order that they may have an example to mirror their faith[14].

Sexual Immorality

Paul received word from Chloe of a specific incident of sexual immorality in the Corinthian Church, an incestous man[15]. Paul emphasizes the level of immorality of the man's incest with his father's wife, by stating that even pagans did not practice incest. Paul goes on tell the Corinthian Church to disassociate themselves with Christians who practice sexual immorality, specifically the man. Here Paul makes a reference to a previous letter and explains that when he told the Church not to associate with the immoral, he meant this to apply only to Believers.

Infact, Paul explicitly says in his letter that he is writing to tell the Believers not to associate themselves with immoral people[16]. This may have been misunderstood as meaning the entire letter was directed at the sinner and those affected by the sin. In a follow up letter Paul clarifies that he did not write First Corinthians, because of the incestous man, but to lift up the Corinthian Church[5].

Verses

  1. 1 Cor 1:1, 16:21 (Link)
  2. 1 Cor 1:1 (Link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 1 Cor 16:21
  4. 1 Cor 1:1 (Link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 2 Cor 7:12
  6. 1 Cor 7:1, 7:25, 8:1, 12:1, 16:1 (Link)
  7. 1 Cor 15:1,12 (Link)
  8. 1 Cor 7:6, 10, 12, 25 (Link)
  9. 1 Cor 1:11, 5:1 (Link)
  10. 1 Cor 1:11 (Link)
  11. 1 Cor 4:14 (Link)
  12. 1 Cor 4:6-7, 15-16 (Link)
  13. 1 Cor 3:1-4 (Link)
  14. 1 Cor 4:17 (Link)
  15. 1 Cor 5:1 (Link)
  16. 1 Cor 5:11 (Link)

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