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I Corinthians

About the Corinthian Letters


Place and Time of Writing

Unique Characteristics



More details about I Corinthians

Paul introduced Christianity to Corinth on his 2MT in the early 50s. He remained in Corinth and taught the Christians for 1 1/2 years. At first Paul worked as a tentmaker and spent his free time preaching and discussing Christianity in the synagogues on Saturdays. Eventually Silas and Timothy came to Corinth, and he devoted his time to preaching and teaching. Many house churches were started during this time.

Eventually some Jews began abusing Paul and he decided to focus on the Gentiles in Corinth. Even so, over time the Jews tried to get Paul in trouble by bringing him into court on the charge of disturbing the peace. The case was rejected and Paul remained in Corinth.

[From this you can see that Paul was used to defending the idea that Jesus came to provide relationships with everyone and not just the Jews. So when he wrote Romans, he was well prepared for any question they had.]

Later on during Paul’s third missionary trip, and while he was in Ephesus, Paul learned that the house churches in Corinth developed problems after he left. He probably learned about the problems from three men who came to visit him who he mentioned in 16:17 (Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus). The Christians had become argumentative and quarreling over how to handle problems in their churches. Remember that the Gospels had not been written, and so we don’t know how much of the life or even words of Jesus was available to them. They did have Paul’s teachings (he had stayed there for 1 1/2 years), but, in his absence, problems arose and they did not know how to handle them. Even more, they developed cliques and competing groups instead of working together for solutions. Paul did not want to go to Corinth immediately, and so decided to write a letter instead. Therefore, the focus of the letter is to help the house churches work through their problems.

One note: In all these solutions, Paul’s ultimate goal is for the house churches and Christians to have unity; watch for this idea as his main solution to all the problems.

The problems (I will only cover 3)

1. Answer to a report of divisions: 1:10-17.

2. Answer to report of adultery (chapter 5)

3. Answer to legal action of a believer against another believer in civil court (6:1-8)

Paul discusses other issues and problems, but we will only examine those three.

Comparing and Contrasting Romans and I Corinthians

Outline of I Corinthians

Readings from I Corinthians

Timeline up to the book of I Corinthians

Dates are approximate.

Year Event
63 B.C. Romans conquer Israel.
27 B.C. Pax Romana began and lasted until A.D. 180.
4 B.C. Jesus born.
All dates after this are A.D.
27 Jesus baptized.
30 Jesus was crucified, buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven.
Apostles travel to Jerusalem and choose Matthias to replace Judas as an Apostle.
Day of Pentecost: Peter assumes leadership of Christianity.
30-50 Peter was leader of Christianity.
33 Jesus appeared to Paul and Paul became a Christian.
48-50 Paul's First Missionary Trip.
50 Council of Jerusalem; Paul became one of the main Christian leaders.
50-55 Paul's Second Missionary Trip.
  53 I Corinthians written
55-60 Paul's Third Missionary Trip.
  57 Romans written.
60-62 Paul arrested in Jerusalem and taken to Rome.
62-63 (Not in Acts) Paul probably released from prison during this time.
63-65 (Not in Acts) Paul probably traveled. He may have gone to Spain.
64 Fire in Rome and Christians persecuted by Emperor Nero.
65 (Not in Acts)Paul back in Rome; he and Peter arrested and martyred: Peter crucified upside down and Paul beheaded.
67 Gospel of Mark written.
70 Temple in Jerusalem destroyed by Romans (it has not been rebuilt).
80 Gospels of Matthew and Luke written.
90 Gospel of John and book of Acts written.
95 Christians persecuted by Emperor Domitian; Apostle John exiled on island of Patmos where he wrote Revelation.
96 Emperor Domitian died; Apostle John probably moved to Ephesus.
100 Apostle John died; he was the last Apostle to die.
390's New Testament canon "closed" at Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).
1200's Chapters added to the New Testament.
1500's Verses added to the New Testament.

©2016 Mark Nickens