The church at Corinth was troubled. It was five years old, but had divisions, doctrinal problems, and all kinds of disorder. One faction tried to justify going to prostitutes, which was widely accepted in their culture. Others thought they were so spiritual that they should avoid sex in marriage in favor of celibacy. Speaking in tongues was rampant, while most other spiritual gifts were being neglected. Idolatry was reclaiming some of the new believers. Observing the Lord's Supper was a farce. This church had serious problems. More than that, many of the Corinthians resented Paul's influence and tried to minimize his apostolic authority.
This is one of Paul's most spirited letters -- harsh in some spots. It is probably Paul's most important letter for understanding what a healthy church should look like. More than anywhere else in Paul's letters, you'll find instruction on church unity, balanced worship, church discipline, the resurrection and Christ's coming, and marriage.
The Letter contains numerous notable verses. Here's just a sampling:
"We have the mind of Christ." (2:16)
"I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." (9:22)
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man...." (10:13)
"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (11:1)
"The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread...." (11:23-26)
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (12:7)
"Love is patient, love is kind...." (13:4-8)
"All things should be done decently and in order." (14:40)
"... That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (15:3-4)
"By the grace of God I am what I am." (15:10)
"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet...." (15:51-52)
"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (15:58)
"On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper...." (16:2)
1 Corinthians is a long letter -- sixteen chapters -- but Paul's most important epistle for shaping the Christian church. This study explores First Corinthians in 15 lessons that can be used for personal enrichment, by small groups and classes, and by teachers and preachers for sermon preparation.