Introduction to 1st Corinthians (1 Corinthians series) Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
Corinth exceeded all the cities of the world, for the splendor and magnificence of its public buildings, such as temples, palaces, theatres, porticos, cenotaphs, baths, and other edifices; all enriched with a beautiful kind of columns, capitals, and bases, from which the Corinthian order in architecture had its beginning. Corinth is also celebrated for its statues; those, especially, of Venus, the Sun, Neptune and Amphitrite, Diana, Apollo, Jupiter, Minerva, etc. The temple of Venus was not only very splendid, but also very rich, and well maintained; according to Strabo, not less than 1000 prostitutes were the means of bringing huge crowds of strangers to the place. Thus riches produced luxury, and luxury a total corruption of manners; though arts, sciences, and literature continued to flourish throughout its long history, and a measure of the military spirit of its ancient inhabitants was kept alive there by means of those public games which were called the Isthmian games, and took place once every five years. The exercises in these games were, leaping, running, throwing the quoit or dart, bowing, and wrestling. It appears that, besides these, there were amphitheaters for poetry and music; and the winners in any of these exercises were ordinarily crowned either with pine leaves or with parsley. It is well known that the apostle alludes to these games in different parts of his epistles, which will be pointed out as they occur.
The PLACE OF WRITING
The PLACE OF WRITING is definitely Ephesus (231Co 16:8). At the time of writing Paul implies (231Co 16:8) that he intended to leave Ephesus after Pentecost of that year. He really did leave it about that time (A.D. 57). The allusion to the Jewish Passover makes it likely that the season was about Easter. Thus the date of the Epistle is set with tolerable accuracy, to be about Easter, certainly before Pentecost, in the third year of his residence at Ephesus, A.D. 57.
1Acts 18.12 (KJV)And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
21 Cor 12:2 (KJV) Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3Acts 18:8 (KJV) And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. This person held an office and had considerable influence; and therefore his conversion to Christianity must have been very galling to the Jews.
4Acts 18:5 (KJV) And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. Paul was pressed in spirit—or he was influenced by the Spirit of God, in an extraordinary manner, to testify to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
51 Cor 1:26 (KJV) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: This seems to have been said in opposition to the high and worldly notions of the Jews, who assert that the Divine Spirit never rests upon any man, unless he be wise, powerful, and rich. Now this Divine Spirit did rest upon the Christians at Corinth, and yet these were, in the sense of the world, neither wise, rich, or noble. We spoil, if not corrupt the apostle's meaning, by adding are called, as if God did not send his Gospel to the wise, the powerful, and the noble, or did not will their salvation. The truth is, the Gospel has an equal call to all classes of men; but the wise, the mighty, and the noble, are too busy, or too sensual, to pay any attention to an invitation so spiritual and so Divine; and therefore there are
61 Cor 1:14 (KJV) I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
7Romans 16:23 (KJV) Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
81 Cor 11:22 (KJV) What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
9Acts 18:24 (KJV) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. An eloquent man—Having strong rhetorical powers; highly cultivated, no doubt, in the Alexandrian schools. Mighty in the Scriptures—Thoroughly acquainted with the law and prophets; and well skilled in the Jewish method of interpreting them.
101Cor 2:1 (KJV) And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. Acting suitably to my mission, which was to preach the Gospel, but not with human eloquence.
111 Cor 9:1 (KJV) Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? Have I not seen Jesus Christ—From whom in his personal appearance
to me, I have received my apostolic commission. This was judged essentially necessary to being an apostle. See Acts 22:14, 15; 26:16.12
1 Cor 1:12 (KJV) Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Every one of you saith—It seems from this expression that the whole Church at Corinth was in a state of dissension: they were all divided into the following sects:
1. Paulians, or followers of St. Paul;
2. Apollonians, or followers of Apollos;
3. Kephians, or followers of Kephas;
4. Christians, or followers of Christ.13
2 Cor 11:5 (KJV) For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles... For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. For such are false apostles—Persons who pretend to be apostles, but have no mission from Christ.14
1 Cor 2:1-5 (KJV) And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.15
1 Cor 15:32 (KJV) If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. let us eat, &c. -- Quoted from the Septuagint, (Isa 22:13), where the prophet describes the reckless self-indulgence of the despisers of God's call to mourning, Let us enjoy the good things of life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of such skeptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. "If men but persuade themselves that they shall die like the beasts, they soon will live like beasts too" —Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary16
1 Cor 16:1 (KJV) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
[171 Cor 16:2 (KJV) Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. Upon the first day of the week—The apostle prescribes the most convenient and proper method of making this contribution.18
2 Cor 1:15-16 (KJV) And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. I was minded—I had planned to come to you before, as he had implied in 1 Corinthians 16:5; and he had intended to call on them on his way back from Macedonia, but he did not fulfill his plans in this; and he gives the reason in 2 Corinthians 1:23.19
2 Cor 13:1 (KJV) This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.20
1 Cor 16:7 (KJV) For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. From Ephesus to Corinth was merely across the Aegean Sea, and comparatively a short passage.21
2 Cor 2:1 (KJV) But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. The apostle continues to give reasons for why he did not visit them at the proposed time. Because of the scandals they were involved in, he could not see them comfortably; and therefore he determined not to see them at all until he had reason to believe they were no longer involved in those evil practices.22
1 Cor 5:9, 12 (KJV) I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators… For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? Not to company with fornicators—With which, as we have already seen, Corinth abounded. It was not only the grand sin, but staple, of the place. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?—The term without, signifies those who were not members of the Church; within signifies those who are church members. Paul says, “It does not fall to me to pass sentence on those which are without—which are not members of the Church? You can judge those which are within—which are members of the Church: those which are without—which are not members of the Church, God will pass sentence on them, in the way in which he generally deals with the heathen world. But you must put away the evil from among yourselves.23
1 Cor 16:8 (KJV) But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. Paul writes his epistle from Ephesus.