Beginning this Sunday January 15, I’m starting a new Sunday series based on First Corinthians and I’m really looking forward to walking through this New Testament letter. Expository preaching doesn’t have to be book by book – as long as the text is “exposed and applied accurately.” But I find that walking through a Bible book helps me to be balanced and deal with needed topics as they come based on the text.
Although I will segment the sixteen chapters of First Corinthians into several mini-series, I wanted to give you a brief, overall perspective on the entire book. At the end of this post, I’ll have a few photos from my trip to Corinth this past summer (thanks Randy Glover!). Several of us visited Greece after our trip to Israel.
The city of Corinth is located about a 90 minute bus ride and fifty miles west of Athens, Greece. The New Testament book of First Corinthians, written by the apostle Paul, is perpetually practical and deals with real life church issues more than any other New Testament book.
Ancient Corinth was noted for its commercial importance as it was a harbor city. Corinth, sort of a combination New York and Las Vegas, became the wealthiest and most important city in Greece during the first century A.D. Its population has been estimated to be as high as 600,000.
Corinth, in the first century A.D., was a cosmopolitan and diverse city. This mixing of traditions and customs explains some of Paul’s teachings in First Corinthians. Corinth was a major center for lively intellectual exchange.
Apostle Paul in Corinth
Paul visited Corinth and planted the church on his second missionary journey (Acts 18). He worked in Corinth for 18 months and made two very good friends there: Aquila and Priscilla. After Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla left Corinth for Ephesus, Apollos came to Corinth and ministered for some time (Acts 18:27-19:1). Perhaps Peter also visited the city for we find a Cephas (Peter) fan club mentioned in 1 Cor. 1:12.
Authorship and Date
Most scholars agree that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians during the three years he stayed in Ephesus, as described in Acts 19. Estimated dates for its composition vary between A.D. 53 and 57. The most likely time is the spring of A.D. 54 or 55.
First Corinthians has the best external testimony of any New Testament letter. The earliest reference to this letter in the Church Fathers is just 45 years after it was written. First Corinthians is quoted or alluded to by I Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. This provides strong evidence that Paul wrote First Corinthians in the middle of the first century A.D., and the letter was considered authoritative by the early church.
Brief Outline of 1 Corinthians
Chapters 1 -6: Paul reacts to reported problems in the church
Chapters 7-16: Paul replies to questions from the church
First Corinthians Message Series Planned for 2012
Great Church Fights
Sex, Singleness & Marriage
I Am First Second Third
Resurrection: This Changes Everything