The church in Corinth was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey, and it was at this time that Paul met a Jewish couple who would become close friends as well as become involved in the helping of spreading the Gospel and building up the church. They were Priscilla and Aquila, with whom Paul lived for a while. Aquila the husband, was a fellow tradesmen with Paul in tent making. It's interesting to note that Priscilla the wife, throughout the Bible, appears more prominent that her husband. Paul wrote the letters we know as First and Second Corinthians, during the time of his third missionary journey. There was an earlier letter written by Paul, which was lost to history. The city of Corinth was a major trade city located in southern Greece. It was a Roman province in the region of Achaia, and located approximately forty-five miles west of the Greek city of Athens. The city of Corinth was located on a section of land known as the Peloponnesus, which is a peninsula in southern Greece. The city was separated from the central part of the country by the Gulf of Corinth. The city of Corinth itself was located near the middle of the isthmus, and prominently situated on a high plateau, which was a common location of ancient cities.
During Paul's time, the city of Corinth was part of one of the major north and south trade routes that went through that region. As a result the city of Corinth prospered as a major city for trade for most of Greece, the Mediterranean, North Africa, Italy, and Asia Minor. Because of its importance and prominence the emperor Nero, during the first-century AD, began construction of a canal across the isthmus, which wasn't completed until the ninth century. Corinth was also famous for the Isthmian games, which was hosted by the city of Corinth. The Isthmian games were second in popularity only to the Olympian games. In addition, because of its location on a major trade route, because of its political power and significance, and because of the amount of people that traveled through the city, the city became a location for pagan occult practices. Moreover, the city of Corinth became known for its debauchery and moral depravity, even by the pagan standards of its own day. The city of Corinth became infamous for its immoral behavior. So much so that the people of the time coined the phrase "to Corinthianize," as a way to describe some of the worst immoral behavior possible.
Like most ancient Greek cities, the city of Corinth had an acropolis, or "high place of worship." The acropolis at Corinth rose to a height of approximately two-thousand feet, situated high on a plateau. It was used for both defense and for pagan worship. It was on this acropolis, that stood the temple to Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and the temple of Aphrodite employed close to a thousand female priestesses. These priestess functioned as "religious" prostitutes to draw people into the temple to worship the pagan gods, and they lived and worked in the temple of Aphrodite. In the evening they would come down from the temple and go into the city to offer their "worship services" to male citizens and foreign visitors, in order to better commune with the pagan gods and bring people into the temple.
Paul carried on his ministry in and around Corinth for over a year and a half. During that time Paul was brought before a Roman tribunal because of accusations of Jewish leaders. They had become envious over Paul's ministry. However, the charges they brought were in regards to Jewish religious matters of the Mosaic law and not legal matters of concern to the Roman Empire. As a result the proconsul Gallio, dismissed the case. Shortly after this event Paul traveled back to Ephesus and took Priscilla and Aquila to help in the ministry, and from there he returned to Israel. Paul had written several letters to the Christians living in Corinth, and the epistle we call First Corinthians is actually the second letter written by Paul. The first letter was lost to history.
Paul's letters to the Corinthians deal primarily with proper behavior, more so than church doctrine. Because of the debased moral attitudes of the culture in and around Corinth, there were major issues involving the behavior of Christians within the church. However, like a loving father, Paul deals patiently with the young Christian church. Some of the problems included boasting, grandstanding, a lack of love and compassion among the congregation, lack of charity, a proper view of idols as well as eating food offered to idols, and the putting of others ahead of one's self. In addition, Paul teaches on spiritual matters such as the Cross of Christ, divine wisdom verses human wisdom, the work of the Holy Spirit in illumination, carnality, eternal rewards, the transformation of salvation, the process of sanctification, the nature of Christ and union with Him, the divine role for women, marriage and divorce, baptism, the use of spiritual gifting, the unity of the church as one body, the theology of love, and the doctrine of resurrection. Paul helps them to understand that all of these things are foundational truths which build Christian character and thereby bring about godly behavior.
Bringing in the definition of a true Apostle of Christ. Paul shows the Corinthians that humility ought rather to be an honor than a shame unto those who are followers of Christ. Paul and his fellow preachers have been made fools for the Gospels sake to bring glory to God and not themselves. Paul commends Timothy whom he is sending to the teach the church. Paul rebukes the church for tolerating a person who is an adulterer with incest and sexual immorality. Paul tells the Corinthians that they should be ashamed and not rejoice in tolerance for such sin was not named even among the Gentiles. Paul reminds them that believers will judge angels in heaven, therefore should they ought to judge matters between believers. Paul reminds them that those who are evil, rebel against God and reject Christ shall go to Hell, therefore they church should not turn to them to judge small matters. Such a person is to be disciplined by the church and returned to fellowship after they repent and cease sinning. They are to discipline rather than tolerate, less the sin spread throughout the church body. Paul also rebukes the church body for suing each other in Gentile court rather than letting the church decide the matter.
3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 3:2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3:3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 3:4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 3:7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 3:13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 3:14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 3:17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; 3:20 and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." 3:21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 3:22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come-all are yours. 3:23 And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
4:1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4:4 For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God. 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 4:8 You are already full You are already rich You have reigned as kings without us-and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you 4:9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ We are weak, but you are strong You are distinguished, but we are dishonored 4:11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 4:12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 4:13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. 4:14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 4:17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 4:21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles-that a man has his father's wife 5:2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 5:3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 5:10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner-not even to eat with such a person. 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 5:13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 6:3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 6:4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 6:5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6:6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers