1 Corinthians: Epistle of the 21st Century
This letter is especially written to those who live in a sex-saturated, wisdom-loving atmosphere
and are trying to live as Christians in the midst of all the pressures that constantly come from these two areas.
A devotion introduction for October
Paul is writing this letter from Ephesus in about 56 or 57 A. D. He had founded the church in Corinth about five years before that, when he had come alone, driven out of Macedonia by the persecution there. He had left Timothy and Luke behind and gone to Athens, and then from there to Corinth. After the founding of the church (which took a period of about two years during the apostle's ministry), he left and went on other journeys. Now he is in Ephesus, and word has come to him that there is difficulty in the church at Corinth.
Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians, referred to in the ninth verse of the fifth chapter, which has been lost to us. All we know of it is what the apostle says there, that he wrote the letter to the Corinthians telling them that they should not keep company with those who had fallen into immorality. Subsequently, a group of men had come from Corinth to visit him in Ephesus (their names are given in the final chapter of this letter, Fortunatus, Stephanas, and Achaicus), and they had brought word, evidently, of further troubles there. With them they also brought a letter from this church asking the apostle to answer certain questions that they had. This letter that we now have, First Corinthians, is his answer to that letter, and to the reports that he had received from the Corinthian church.
In some ways, most remarkably, this letter is different from all the other letters the apostle wrote. Most of them began with a rather lengthy doctrinal section in which he is teaching great truth, and close with a practical section in which he applies what he is teaching. But here, right from the very beginning, he plunges into the problems of the church, and intersperses a kind of practicality of doctrine with revelations of truth throughout the letter.
This is certainly the most practical of all Paul's letters. Even in this opening greeting, his concern for the church in its various problems is very clearly reflected. It begins with an emphasis upon his apostleship.
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle. That was necessary because there were certain ones in Corinth who were ready to challenge that fact because he had not been part of the original twelve disciples. His apostleship was called into question, and some were wondering if he were not even a false apostle, so Paul has to defend it in the letter. Therefore, he puts his apostleship first as he writes.