Study Sheet for I Corinthians 1:1-9 (click here for Study Notes)
I Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, Together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way-in all your speaking and in all your knowledge-because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (NIV)
Corinth was a port town just off the Corinthian isthmus. During Paul's day it had a population of about 250,000 free people and at least 400,000 slaves. It was one of the principal Greek cities. It had at least 12 temples built in it, the most infamous being the temple to Aphrodite, goddess of love, whose worshipers practiced religious prostitution. At one time 1,000 sacred prostitutes served in that temple.
Corinth was famous for its immorality, much like most large commercial cities are. In fact, its immorality became legendary, and a Greek verb developed-"to Corinthianize"-that meant to practice sexual immorality.
Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians to address several problems that had divided the church. Instead of experiencing unity in Christ, the church had split into sects that each claimed a different leader or teacher. As William Barclay points out in his commentary on The Letters to the Corinthians, Paul believed that these divisions occurred because the people thought too much about human wisdom and knowledge instead of the grace of Jesus Christ.
Paul also addressed several other specific problems in the church, which was immature and unspiritual. He called the church to embrace the authority and power of Jesus and to dedicate itself to a holy life. He challenged the members to settle their disputes among themselves and to treat communion sacredly instead of as a common feast. He called them to renounce immorality and to be generous and compassionate with the poor.
This letter deals with the ongoing concerns of allowing the Holy Spirit to create Christ-likeness in us after we are saved instead of allowing our "sinful flesh impulses" to pull us away from the power and peace of unity with Jesus.
1. Paul opens by stating that the letter is from him and Sosthenes, who many think may have been the synagogue leader at Corinth whom the Greeks assaulted (Acts 18:17). If so, he had become a Christian. Why did Paul call attention, as he does in most of his epistles, to himself being an apostle "by the will of God"? (see also I Cor. 9 and II Cor. 11).
2. Paul addresses the "church of God in Corinth". Since he is writing this letter to "straighten up" their bad behavior and unspiritual attitudes, what is the significance of his saying in verse 2, "to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy"? How could they be "sanctified" if they had such big problems with their behavior? Paul continues in verse 2 by including in his greeting "all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours". Who were "all those everywhere" to whom Paul referred? (see Acts 2:21)
3. In verse 5 Paul states, "For in him you have been enriched in every way-in all your speaking and in all your knowledge-because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you." Of what kind of enriching is Paul speaking? (see also II Cor. 9:11) How does the testimony of Christ in their lives enrich them? Why do you think Paul especially mentions that their enriching affects "all your speaking" and "all your knowledge"? (see I Cor. 2:14-16, and Acts 2:1-4)
4. In verse 7 Paul mentions that the Corinthians "do not lack any spiritual gift" as they "eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." What are the gifts that they have among them? (see I Cor. 12-14) How can the gifts of the Spirit coexist in them with the divisions, immaturity, and immorality Paul is calling them to forsake?
5. Before he chastises the Corinthians, Paul reassures them that Christ "will keep [them] strong to the end, so that [they] will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." What is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ? (see I Thess. 3:13; 2 Peter 3:12) Paul doesn't say "so that you well become strong", rather, he says Jesus will "keep you strong." Given the Corinthians' chaotic state at the time Paul wrote this letter, how can Paul say Jesus "will keep [them] strong to the end, so that [they] will be blameless"? (see Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:13)
6. What divisions or persistent sins in your heart are blinding you to the blamelessness and strength that are yours in Jesus?
7. How have you been enriched in Jesus? How has the "testimony about Christ" in you affected your speaking and your knowledge? What spiritual gifts has God given you?
8. Paul ends his introduction by reminding the Corinthians that God, who called them to be in "fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." How has God been faithful to you?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.