1 Corinthians

Authorship and Audience

Per 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 and 16:21, this letter was written by Paul to the "church of God which is at Corinth" (1:2a).

Date and Context

This letter was most likely written around 55 AD. This is evidenced by the fact that Paul was writing from Ephesus (see 1 Corinthians 16:8) where he stayed for three years (see Acts 20:31) likely between 53 to 55/56 AD. I claim Paul wrote 1 Corinthians toward the end of his stay in Ephesus based on 1 Corinthians 16:6 where Paul is making plans to spend the winter in Corinth.


  • Life in the Church. One of the major themes throughout this letter is what life in the Church ought and ought not look like. Paul confronts the problems of disunity, lack of Church discipline, the misuse of communion, and the misuse of spiritual gifts, among other issues, and shows how these behaviors are unbecoming saints who "belong to Christ" (3:23).


0. Introduction and Greeting [1:1-9]

I. Confronting Problems in the Church [1:2-18]

A. Addressing the Lack of Unity in the Church [1:10 - 4]

B. Addressing Immorality in the Church [5 - 6]

II. Answering Questions and Providing Principles [7 - 15]

A. Answer: Marriage in the Church [7]

B. Answer: Liberty in the Church [8 - 11:1]

C. Principles: Order in the Church [11:2-34]

D. Answer: Spiritual Gifts [12 - 14]

E. Principle: The Centrality of the Resurrection to the Gospel [15]

III. Conclusion: Final Instructions and Greetings [16]


  • Some scholars and commentators suggest that the "Sosthenes" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:1 is the same leader of the synagogue in Corinth who is mentioned in Acts 18:17. While this is certainly possible, I see no positive evidence that this is necessarily the case.
  • When he first came to them, Paul spent eighteen months with the Corinthians (Acts 18:1-17). The letter of 1 Corinthians was written after this initial visit.
  • As evidenced by passages like 7:1, 8:1, and 12:1, Paul was writing this letter partly to confront issues with the Church and partly to respond to some questions the Corinthians had written him about. This gives us some tremendous insight into how the early church operated and how churches today ought to order themselves.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, part of a well known passage describing communion, is a reiteration of Jesus's words in Luke 22:19-20. Along with 1 Timothy 5:18, this passage affirms that Paul recognized Luke's account of the gospel as authoritative and useful for guiding the Church. For more on 1 Timothy 5:18, refer to the notes on 1 Timothy.

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