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By Pastor Jared Decker

I. The Book

The author of the book of I Corinthians was God, for He is the author of all Scripture.

The human instrument God used, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to pen the book of  I Corinthians, was the Apostle Paul.(1 Cor. 1:1)

Most probably, Sosthenes was the person who actually wrote the words down.(1 Cor. 1:1) Many believe that Paul had very poor eyesight, and therefore needed someone to write the letters for him. This thought could also be established by the fact that Paul never traveled alone. He always had someone with Him. It could be that Paul’s poor eyesight could have limited Him from accomplishing certain tasks, were it not for a fellow helper.

Date of Writing
The approximate date of writing was between A.D. 55 and A.D. 59.

Place of Writing
The book of I Corinthians was most probably written from the city of Ephesus. Some would disagree about Ephesus being the place of writing, but Paul stated that he would tarry (which means to remain or stay) in Ephesus until Pentecost.(1 Cor. 16:8) Paul stated that “The churches of Asia salute you…” implying that he was in the area of Asia Minor, and Ephesus is the capitol of Asia Minor. Paul also said, “Aquila and Priscilla salute you…”, which gives us the direct implication that he was in the city of Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla were Christians from the church at Corinth. Paul had taken them to the city of Ephesus and left them there to help the new Church in its growth.(Acts 18:1-2, 18-21, 24-26)

Occasion and Purpose
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth to address several issues attacking the body of Christ. He addressed some issues that others had written or communicated to him about, mainly fornication, marriage and division in the church.

The application of Christian principles in the carnal lives of the individuals as well as the church body as a whole.

Key Verses
I Corinthians 6:19-20 – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

II. The City

Corinth – Historical Background
The ancient city of Corinth was very similar to today’s large cities. It was a busy metropolis where one could buy, sell, or trade just about anything their heart desired. With that great cosmopolitan atmosphere came great wickedness and debauchery. The name of the city itself means “ornament”. It was a very flashy, worldly city. The city of Corinth was located just north of Greece on the four-mile-wide isthmus between the Ionian and the Aegean seas. This placed it in the extremely lucrative path of cargo ships trying to avoid the dangerous voyage around Greece. The original city was destroyed by Mummius (a Roman general) in 146 B.C. The city was later rebuilt by Julius Caesar, which greatly contributed to its gaining status as a Roman colony in 46 B.C. Because of their excellent geographic position and their status as a Roman colony, Corinth was acclaimed as the hub of the Roman Empire’s commerce.

Corinth – Cultural Background
Being a trade city, Corinth was a hotbed for almost any nationality. During Paul’s day, the estimated population was about 500,000. The majority of Corinth was made up of Romans, Greeks, and Orientals. There was a fairly large population of Jews there as well. The population varied constantly because of the large  number of people that had mobile occupations. (i.e. sailors, soldiers, fishermen, and businessmen.)

Corinth – Religious Background
Sadly, the most notable thing about Corinth was the massive temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. This temple was the epitome of vile debauchery. However, this was not the only religion active in the city of Corinth. A pantheon of gods were worshipped and a  variety of cults were prevalent. Judaism was present, and the Jews there built a synagogue. The local church at Corinth began as a small nucleus of believers, most of whom were   Gentiles, though some were Jews. We know very little about the church of Corinth once Paul’s letters ceased, but we do know that the church stayed in existence for a great amount of time.

III. The Church

Upon his arrival in Corinth, the synagogue was the place where Paul spent the majority of his time preaching. (See Acts 18:1-4) When he preached to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, “they opposed themselves and blasphemed”. (See Acts 18:6) Upon this reaction, Paul turned his ministry to the Gentiles. The local church at Corinth began as a small nucleus of believers, most of whom were Gentiles, though some were Jews. While there, Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla, two of the beginning church members. The church began to grow under the leadership of Paul, who was there for a year and six months according to Acts 18:11. After Paul left Corinth, he returned to Antioch to give the report of his missionary journey to the church there. We know very little about the church of Corinth once Paul’s letters ceased, but we do know that the church stayed in existence for a great amount of time.

While Paul was in Ephesus, he heard of some of the problems that were occurring in the church. The church at Corinth had not separated entirely from the world, therefore the world began to seep into the church. Quarreling among the membership had begun, and the church was not dealing with the matter of fornication. There were many questions that the church had regarding several issues, and they had written Paul to ask his council and advice. (See I Cor. 7:1) The members of the church were living the liberal lifestyle that most Christians live today, and Paul rebuked them for it. Paul wrote the book of I Corinthians from Ephesus as a letter of correction to solve these problems.

There are several people of great consequence who were effected by the ministry of the church at Corinth. Among the most notable were Aquila and Priscilla. They not only served in the church at Corinth, but when Paul left the city, they accompanied him to the city of Ephesus. When Paul departed Ephesus, he left them behind to help the new church there. Apollos was effected by the ministry of the church at Corinth, for when he came to Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla expounded to him more clearly the Gospel. This straightened the doctrine of Apollos and enabled him to go out and preach the truth of the Gospel with the same eloquence that he had been preaching the message of John’s baptism. Although we do not know much about Chloe, we do know that she was concerned enough about the spirituality of her church to write the man of God about it. Three other men from the church that were spoken highly of Paul were Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus. These were possibly the men who carried the letter to Paul that discussed the problems with the church.


IV. The Outline

Chapter 1—”The Position of the Believer”

Key Verse: 1:9 – ”God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

A. Position in Grace (1:1-9)
B. Position in Mind (1:10-12)
C. Position in Christ (1:13-16)
D. Position in Wisdom (1:17-25)
E. Position in Service (1:26-31)

Chapter 2—”The Revelation of the Believer”

Key Verse: 2:10 – ”But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

A. Revelation of Christ (2:1-3)
B. Revelation from God (2:4-8)
C. Revelation to Men (2:9-12)
D. Revelation in the Spirit (2:13-16)

Chapter 3—”The Service of the Believer”

Key Verse: 3:8 – “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own    reward according to his own labour.”

A. The Carnality of the Believer (3:1-5)
B. The Service of the Believer (3:6-9)
C. The Foundation of the Believer (3:10-11)
D. The Reward of the Believer (3:12-15)
E. The Temple of the Believer (3:16-19)
F. The Purchase of the Believer (3:20-23)

Chapter 4—”The Judgment of the Believer”

Key Verse: 4:4 – “For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.”

A. Judgment Comes from God (4:1-5)
B. Blessing Comes from God (4:6-8)
C. Wisdom Comes from God (4:9-17)
D. Humility Comes from God (4:18-21)

Chapter 5—”The Indifference of the Believer”

Key Verse: 5:6 – “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”

A. Fornication in the Church(5:1)
B. Evil in the Church (5:2-5)
C. Leaven in the Church (5:6-8)
D. Worldliness in the Church (5:9-10)
E. Separation in the Church (5:11-13)

Chapter 6—”The Body of the Believer”

Key Verse: 6:20 – “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

A. Judgment in the Body (6:1-4)
B. Defrauding in the Body (6:5-8)
C. Justification in the Body (6:9-11)
D. Function in the Body (6:12-15)
E. Glorification in the Body (6:16-20)

Chapter 7—”The Marriage of the Believer”

Key Verse: 7:17 – “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.”

A. Principles for Married Believers – Part 1 (7:1-5)
B. Principles for Unmarried Believers – Part 1 (7:6-9)
C. Principles for Married Believers – Part 2 (7:10-16)
D. Principles for Called Believers (7:17-24)
E. Principles for Unmarried Believers – Part 2(7:25-38)
F. Principles for Remarried Believers (7:39-40)

Chapter 8—”The Limitations of the Believer”

Key Verse: 8:9 – “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”

A. Avoid Sacrificial Meats (8:1-4)
B. Avoid Spurious Deities (8:5-6)
C. Avoid Severed Conscience (8:7-8)
D. Avoid Stumbling Blocks (8:9-11)
E. Avoid Senseless Offences (8:12-13)

Chapter 9—”The Ministry of the Believer”

Key Verse: 9:23 – “And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”

A. The Answer to Criticism (9:1-6)
B. The Anticipation to Collect (9:7-11)
C. The Authenticity to Christ (9:12-16)
D. The Accountability to Commitment (9:17-19)
E. The Attention to Care (9:20-23)
F. The Avenue to Crowns (9:24-27)

Chapter 10—”The Liberty of the Believer”

Key Verse: 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

A. The Failure in the Past (10:1-5)
B. The Forewarning in the Present (10:6-10)
C. The Faithfulness in the Potential (10:11-13)
D. The Fellowship in the Provocation (10:14-22)
E. The Factor in the Partaking (10:23-30)
F. The Focus in the Profit (10:31-33)

Chapter 11—”The Prayer of the Believer”

Key Verse: 11:3 – “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

A. The Progression of the Significance (11:1-3)
B. The Practice of the Supplication (11:4-9)
C. The Purpose of the Statute (11:10-16)
D. The Problem of the Supper (11:17-22)
E. The Purpose of the Supper (11:23-26)
F. The Power of the Supper (11:27-34)

Chapter 12—”The Gifts of the Believer”

Key Verse: 12:31 – “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”

A. The Root of the Gifts (12:1-3)
B. The Range of the Gifts (12:4-10)
C. The Residence of the Gifts (12:11-23)
D. The Representation of the Gifts (12:24-27
E. The Rendering of the Gifts (12:28-31)

Chapter 13—”The Charity of the Believer”

Key Verse: 13:10 – “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

A. The Reason for Charity (13:1-3)
1. To Articulate Properly (13:1) – To speak the way I should
2. To Address Properly (13:2a) – To preach the way I should
3. To Accept Properly (13:2b) – To believe the way I should
4. To Allot Properly (13:3) – To give the way I should
B. The Result of Charity (13:4-8)
1. Courtesy (13:4a)
2. Contentment (13:4b)
3. Character (13:5)
a.) In Action – “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own…”
b.) In Attitude – “…is not easily provoked…”
c.) In Attention – “…thinketh no evil;”
4. Courage (13:7a)
5. Conviction (13:7b)
6. Confidence (13:7c)
7. Consistency (13:7d-8)
C. The Revelation of Charity (13:9-12)
1. Clouded in the Present (13:9) – We know and prophecy in part
2. Clearer in the Perspective (13:10) – Scripture helps us to know and prophecy more clearly
      3. Crystal Clear in the Presence of God (13:11-12) – My understanding has grown from child to man, but           one day, my understanding will grow from man to glorified body in Heaven
D. The Regard for Charity (13:13)
1. It Abides (13:13a) – It abides along with faith and hope…
      2. It is Above All (13:13b) – …but it abides as the greatest of the three in the life of a Christian

Chapter 14—”The Prophecy of the Believer”

Key Verse: 14:33 – “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

A. The Preference Over Tongues (14:1-6)
B. The Perplexity of Tongues (14:7-11)
C. The Practice of Tongues (14:12-17)
D. The Problem with Tongues (14:18-21)
E. The Purpose of Tongues (14:19-25)
F. The Principles of Tongues (14:26-32)
G. The Position of Tongues (14:33-40)

Chapter 15—”The Resurrection of the Believer”

Key Verse: 15:3,4 – “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

A. The Reminder of the Resurrection (15:1-4)
B. The Realization of the Resurrection (15:5-11)
C. The Result of the Resurrection (15:12-19)
D. The Range of the Resurrection (15:20-28)
E. The Righteousness of the Resurrection (15:29-34)
F. The Reservation of the Resurrection (15:35-49)
G. The Reassurance of the Resurrection (15:50-58)

Chapter 16—”The Generosity of the Believer”

Key Verse: 16:9 – “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

A. The Command to Collect (16:1-4)
B. The Aspiration to Arrive Again (16:5-9)
C. The Request to Receive (16:10-12)
D. The Support to Stand Strong (16:13-18)
E. The Hellos to Home (16:19-24)