Guide: 1st Corinthians

Thematic Guide to the Text of
(Numbers refer to chapters and verses)

Chapters 1-4: Divisions in the Church

1:1    Salutation
1:10  Divisions in the Church
1:18   Christ the Power and Wisdom of God
2:1   Proclaiming Christ Crucified
2:6    The True Wisdom of God
2:12  We Have Received the Spirit that is from God
3:1    Members of the Corinthian Church are Infants in Christ
3:10    Paul as God’s Master Builder
3:19    The Wisdom of this World is Foolishness with God
4:1   The Ministry of the Apostles
4:14    Fatherly Admonition

Chapter 5: Man Living with his stepmother

5:1   Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church
5:9   Do Not Associate with the Sexually Immoral

Chapter 6: Lawsuits among Christians; Men using prostitutes

6:1  Lawsuits among Believers
6:12  Glorify God in Body and Spirit

Chapter 7: Sex and Marriage

7:1  Directions Concerning Marriage
7:17    The Life that the Lord Has Assigned
7:25    The Unmarried and the Widows

Chapters 8-10: Meat offered to Idols

8:1   Food Offered to Idols
9:1   The Rights of an Apostle
9:15    Paul Does Not Avail Himself of These Rights
9:19    I am Free With Respect to All, I Have Made Myself a Slave to All
10:1     Warnings from Israel’s History
10:14   Flee from the Worship of Idols
10:23   Do All to the Glory of God

Chapter 11: Conduct in Church: Women's head covering; Abuse of the Lord's Supper

11:1    Be Imitators of Christ
11:3   Christ is the Head of Man, Man the Head of His Wife, God the Head of Christ
11:17  Abuses of the Lord’s Supper through Factions
11:23  The Institution of the Lord’s Supper
11:27  Partaking of the Supper Unworthily

Chapters 12-14: Spiritual Gifts in the Congregation

12:1    Spiritual Gifts
12:12  One Body with Many Members
13:1    The Gift of Love
14:1    The Gift of Prophecy and Tongues
14:26  Orderly Worship
14:34  Women Should Be Silent in the Churches
14:37  Recognizing Prophets and Those With Spiritual Powers

Chapter 15: Belief in the Resurrection

15:1    The Resurrection of Christ: Paul’s Gospel
15:12  The Resurrection of the Dead: Christ is the First Fruits of Those Who Have Died
15:35   The Resurrection Body: What is Sown is Perishable, What is Raised Imperishable

Chapter 16:  Conclusion

16:1     A Collection for the Saints
16:5     Paul’s Plans for Travel
16:13   Final Messages and Greetings


The Corinthian Christians: Using Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians as a source on early Christianity


Mostly gentile (12.2), mirroring the cityís population. Some like Erastus (mentioned in Romans 16:23) may have been prominent, but most were of lower social standing (1:26). Small groups of believers in different parts of the city would  regularly come together as a church for a common meal and worship. (11:18; 14:260

Occasion and Purpose of the Letter

Writes in answer to messages asking his views n disputed matters (7:1). Also Paul responds to word of mouth reports about serious disorders in the congregation. (1:11; 5:1; 11:18):

Jockeying  rival groups for control (1:10-17)
Indifference to cases of immorality (5:1-13)
Disregard for those who are not fully enlightened about appropriate Christian conduct (8:1-11:1)
Marginalizing of congregationís disadvantaged members (11:17-34; see also 12:20-26)
Paulís apostolic authority seems to have been questioned: (1:12; 13:1-4:5; chap. 9)

Letter summons the fractious congregation to show   the unity and concord that Paul sees as part of belonging to Christ. It open with a call to unity (1:10-17); its central advice is informed by the view of love set out in (8:1-3) and chap. 13; and it closes with an appeal to let love govern the life of the community (16:14)

Views of the Corinthians

Disputes and disorders nurtured by particular religious views that, from Paulís perspective, departed from the gospel he had preached.

Critical of boasters of special religious wisdom or knowledge (1:17, 18-25; 2:6; 11; 3:18-20; 8:1-3.)
Those who regard certain spiritual gifts, particularly ecstatic speech, as evidence of higher spiritual status (chaps. 12-14)
They also seem to believe they are already reigning with Christ in glory (4:8) and perhaps as a consequence they hope for little beyond this present life (15:12-19)