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AM Bible Study Archives
"No Other Foundation"
1 Corinthians; Introduction
Wednesday AM Bible Study
February 14, 2007
All of the books of the Bible are precious and of inestamable value. But there are four New Testament letters of Paul that are particularly strategic to our undersanding of the great doctrine of justification by faith. In Romans, we see Paul as the “teacher” as through it, he lays out to us the doctrine of “justification by faith”. In Galatians, we see Paul as the “defender” as through it, he protects that precious doctrine from the poisonous doctrine of legalism. And in 1 and 2 Corinthians, we see Paul as “pastor” as through them, he lays out the practical implications of that doctrine for the life of the church.
Paul wrote this first letter somewhere between the year 55-57 AD to believers in the ancient port city of Corinth. It rested on the narrow isthmas between the Agean and the Adriatic seas; and because it had two major sea ports on either side of the city, it became a significant and wealthy center of commerce. It also became the center of a great variety of ideas and cultural distictives. It was the location for important athletic games; with a outdoor theater that could seat over 20,000 people. It was also the center for the worship of Aphridite (a sex goddess), with 1,000 prostitutes serving in its temple. (It was proverbial to refer to an immoral person as “living like a Corinthian”.)
Paul began the church that was in Cornith during his second missionary journey. Important background into the formation of the church is provided for us in Acts 18:1-17. There, we see that Paul spent as much as three and a half years living and working among the Corinthians; proclaiming Christ in the synagogue, and teaching about him in the public forums.
One of the outstanding features behind the scenes of this letter is the unusual amount of correspondance Paul carried on with the Corinthian believers. After he had lived with them for a year and a half, he apparently wrote to them (in a letter that we do not have) in order to urge them to live pure lives and separate lives in the context of the culture around them (1 Corinthians 5:9). Later, they wrote back to him and asked for further clarification on a variety of moral and ethical issues (1 Corinthians 7:1). He wrote back to them in response to their request; and that letter is what we have as 1 Corinthians. Later, he wrote another, very harsh letter (which again we do not have—2 Corinthians 2:3-4); and after further corrispondance through some that Paul had sent, he then wrote 2 Corinthians to them. There is more corrispondance between Paul and the Corinthian believers behind the scenes than in any other of his letters in the New Testament
The great intention of Paul's letter to them is to solve their problems by pointing them to Christ as the ultimate solution. F.L. Godet, wrote, “In treating each particular matter submitted to his judgment, the apostle does not stop at the surface; he endeavours to penetrate to the very root of those various manifestations. Instead of summarily settling the questions as by the article of a code, he searches the depths of the gospel for the permanent principle which applies to the passing phenomenon, so that to judge of the analogous manifestations and tendencies of our day, we have only ourselves to fall back from the practical rule with which he closes each of those discussions on the evangelical principle from which he drew it, that in our turn we may apply this principle to the contemporary phenomenon with which we have to do” (pp. 2-3). This makes 1 Corinthians a wonderfully practical book; and would suggest that 1 Corinthians 3:11 is the key verse: “For on other foundation can anyone lay that that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
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OUTLINE OF 1 CORINTHIANS
I. GREETING (1:1-3).
II. FOUNDATION (1:4-9).
III. BUILDING (1:10-15:58).
A. Problems of Fellowship: Sectarianism in the church (1:10-4:20).
B. Problems of Moral Life
1. Immorality tolerated (5:1-12).
2. Suing one another (6:1-8).
3. Sexual impurity (6:9-20).
4. Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (7:1-40).
5. Judgment in Questionable Things (8:1-11:1).
C. Problems of Worship
1. Head Covering for Women (11:2-16).
2. Lord's Supper (11:17-34).
3. Spiritual Gifts (12:1-14:40).
D. Problems of Doctrine: The Resurrection (15:1-58).
IV. CLOSING (16:1-24).