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I Corinthians Overview

I Corinthians is the 7th of 27 New Testament books; the 2nd of the 13 letters of Paul.

It’s placed after Romans even though it was probably written before Romans. Both were probably written on Paul’s third missionary journey!

This chart shows why it’s placed after Romans:

New Testament Order:


Gospels          Acts

Historical Facts



I and II Corinthians


Irving Jensen

Jensen’s Survey of the New Testament


Like Romans, I Corinthians has 16 chapters. Both are amazing books!

In Romans Paul crafted a theological masterpiece about the gospel.

I Corinthians was written in response to specific questions and challenges facing the church in Corinth as it dealt with divisions and disorders!

Key words in Corinthians: It is reported; Now concerning, or now about…

Every urban church has some issues to deal with because of the city they are located in.

For instance, imagine the different things a church would deal with if it was in:

Salt Lake City        Las Vegas              San Francisco        Washington, D.C.

So it was for the church in Corinth:

Ancient Corinth was a well-known and busy commercial center of perhaps as many as half a million people in it.

It had stately buildings and was acclaimed by some the hub of the Roman Empire’s commerce and ancient Greece’s most important trade city.

The name Korinthos means “ornament!”

Julius Caesar rebuilt the city in 46 B.C., and that gained its status as a Roman Colony. It was the capitol of the province of Achaia. Gallio was the proconsul.

Let’s check out its location on the map.

That lower tip of Greece was a dangerous voyage for ships. If you look close you see that is a 4-mile wide isthmus where Corinth is between the Ionian and Aegean seas.

A small ship was moved from one side to the other via a tramway. Larger ships transferred cargo from one ship to another there. So basically Corinth was the connecting link between Rome and the East.

Lots of bronze items and pottery were made there, as well as ships built! 

Corinth had a mixture of races and a lot of mobile people like sailors and business men. It also had a very large number of slaves.

The acropolis was 1500 feet above the city, and from there the acropolis of Athens can be seen 45 miles away! The Temple of Apollo also towered over the ancient marketplace.

It was also home of the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. There people went to have sex with its 1000 prostitute priests and priestesses. 

The Greek word korinthiazomai meant “to act the Corinthian,” and it came to mean “to commit fornication.” 

One writer described Corinth as “a seaman’s paradise, a drunkard’s heaven, and a virtuous woman’s hell.”   

Corinth was big enough to also be a place the study of the arts and sciences flourished, and where languages and philosophies were studied. Note on the map its proximity to Athens, another snobbish intellectual hub.

Corinth was also a sports town, hosting the Isthmian Games every 2 years.

Corinth was one of the most wealthy and most immoral cities of antiquity.

Corinth was a hub of activity. No doubt Paul envisioned it being a hub of gospel activity as well!

Paul planted the church of Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey about A.D. 50. I Corinthians was written about A.D. 56-57 from Ephesus (16:8) on Paul’s 3rd missionary journey.  He refers to an earlier letter in 5:9.

Read Acts 18:1-18.

Purposes in Writing I Corinthians, according to Irving Jensen:

1.       To identify the basic problems underlying the reports and inquiries

2.       To offer solutions by way of doctrine and example

3.       To give extended teaching on related doctrines

4.       To give a short defense of his apostleship

5.       To exhort the believers in the ways of a full, mature Christian life.

One writer calls First Corinthians “the Epistle of Sanctification.”


Responses to the report of problems                     Chapters 1-6


Quarrels                                               Chapters 1-4

          Call for Church Discipline                   Chapter 5

          Lawsuits                                              Chapter 6


Answers to specific questions                                Chapters 7-15


Marriage                                              Chapter 7

Christian Liberty                                  Chapters 8-10

Church Decorum, Lord’s Supper         Chapter 11  

Spiritual gifts, Call to love                   Chapters 12-14

Resurrection Body                               15:1-58


Shout outs                                                              Chapter 16

Specific verses to consider in I Corinthians:

1:1               Sostenes is the co-writer            Former synagogue leader!

1:2               The believers are called sanctified saints despite their challenges!

1:5               You are already rich in everything! Jesus is enough! You don’t lack!

1:7               You do not lack any spiritual gift!

1:10             No divisions among you!

1:18             The message of the cross!

1:23             We preach Christ crucified!

1:26             Consider your calling: it’s not about you or me; it’s about Jesus!

1:30             Christ is our righteousness (justification), our sanctification, and our redemption (glorification).

2:3-5            I was with you in weakness, fear and trembling…             WHAT?

Paul is emphasizing he wasn’t about what he could do, but what God could!

2:12             The Spirit helps us know what God has freely given us!

2:14-15        The natural man/ the spiritual person!

2:16             We have the mind of Christ!

3:1-4            Babes in Christ…still fleshly…envy and strife…

3:5-6            The role of God’s servants: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth!

3:8               Each will receive His own reward…

3:13             The day will disclose how we have built…

3:16             You are God’s sanctuary!

4:1               We are servants and stewards!

4:5               Don’t judge prematurely!

4:6               Nothing beyond what is written!

4:8               Already you are rich!

4:9               The downside of being an apostle – condemned to die!

4:11             We are hungry and homeless!

4:13             We are garbage and filth.

4:15-16        You can have 10,000 instructors in Christ, but you can’t have many fathers. So imitate me.

4:20             The Kingdom of God is not in talk but in power!

5:5               Church Discipline when members live in flagrant sin, won’t repent

5:11             When NOT to associate with a brother

6:2-3            Saints will judge the world/ so lovingly judge in the church; We will judge angels

6:5               Looking for a wise arbitrator!

6:7               Why not rather be cheated?!

6:9               The unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom…

6:11             Some of you were like this, but you were washed…

6:12             Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful!

6:18             Flee from sexual immorality

6:19-20        Body a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…You were bought with a price…

7:4-5            Spouses have authority over each other’s bodies; Only deprive each other for prayer

7:7               Extolling the gift of singleness!

7:9               Better to marry than to burn!

7:10-11        Maybe a case for separation short of marriage

7:12-14        Stay with your unbelieving spouse: for their sake, and the kids!

7:15             If you have been abandoned, you are not bound to those vows

7:21             Slaves, if you can get free, do it!

7:32-35        Honest words about how a married man has responsibilities the single servant does not!       Great case for singleness!

7:36            But it’s no sin to get married!

7:39             A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. If he dies she is free to be married. Does 7:15 override this?            I think so!

8:1               About food offered to idols!

8:9               Be careful your “rights” don’t become a stumbling block to the weak.

8:12-13        A sin against a weaker brother’s conscience is a sin against Christ.

9:2               You are my seal of apostleship in the Lord

9:14-15        Those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel. But I have used none of these rights! And that’s not why I’m writing!

9:16             Woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel!

9:19             I’m free, but I’ve made myself a slave to all!

9:22             I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some.

10:6             O.T. examples are for us, so that we will not desire evil as they did!

10:12-14      Therefore he who thinks he stands must be careful not to fall; No temptation has overtaken you but what is common to man; Therefore flee from idolatry!

10:23-24      Second time – everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful! Not everything builds up! No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person!

10:25           Eat everything that is sold in the meat market! For the earth is the Lords, and everything in it!

10:31           Whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God!

10:32           But give no offense (on these peripheral matters)

11:1             Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ

11:2ff          Head coverings

11:15           A woman’s long hair is given to her as a covering

11:17ff        The Lord’s Supper

11:27ff        Call for examination before partaking

12:1ff          About matters of the Spirit…     Spiritual gifts

12:7             Different gifts given by the Spirit for what is beneficial

12:10           Tongues is one of those gifts

12:11           Spirit distributes these gifts to each one as He wills

12:13           We were ALL baptized by one Spirit into one body!

12:14ff        The church compared to a body; parts need to work together!

12:24           God gives greater honor to the less honorable parts of the body!

12:26           Members should suffer together, be honored together!

12:28           Gifts listed!

13:1f            The love chapter!

14:1f            Definitive teaching on speaking in tongues

14:3             Prophecy is for edification, encouragement, and consolation!

14:12           Seek to excel in building up the church!

14:40           Everything must be done decently and in order

15:1f            Definitive teaching on the Resurrection of the dead!

15:3f            Christ died for our sins, was buried, but rose from the dead!

15:17           If Christ is not raised, our faith is worthless; still in our sins.

15:20           Christ the firstfruits; we’ll rise too!

15:26           The last enemy to be abolished is death!

15:33           Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals!

15:37           You are not sowing the future body, only a seed!

15:40           There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies!

15:44           Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body!

15:50           Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; as it is now, under the curse!

15:51-52      A mystery: we will all be changed! At the last trumpet…the dead will be raised!

15:54           Death has been swallowed up in victory!

15:58           Therefore be steadfast!

16:1             About the collection for the saints…

16:2             On the first day of the week, set something aside!

16:8             A wide door for effective ministry has opened for us (here in Ephesus), though many oppose us!

16:14           Your every action must be done with love!

16:22           Maranatha!