Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1 Corinthians Introduction

Here is the introduction I wrote for my Ugandan friends:

1 Corinthians was written from Ephesus around AD 55 by Paul. 1 Corinthians is the second letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. The first letter (see 1 Corinthians 5:9) is lost but the Corinthian’s response to that letter forms the basis for 1 Corinthians. The city of Corinth was an affluent and decadent city that controlled the critical trade route between the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. I understand that there is a word in Latin "to Corinthianize" which means to take something good or innocent and completely corrupt it.  Corinth was the home of the temple of Aphrodite (goddess of love.) The city of Corinth was a melting pot of cultures, races, and religions. The Corinthian church reflects this diversity. The issues that necessitated this letter are spelled out in Chapters 7 through 15 – marriage, celibacy, food offered to idols, worship, spiritual gifts (especially speaking in tongues), and bodily resurrection. Before Paul addresses these matters, he establishes his authority by addressing some other matters: factions in the congregation, a case of immorality, and lawsuits among Christians. The letter contains some of the earliest Christian traditions regarding the resurrection (see chapter 15) and Communion (see chapter 11) and one of the most beloved chapters in all the New Testament – Paul’s hymn to Christian love (chapter 13). The early Christian movement struggled with people making the transition from pagan religions to becoming faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Old behaviors, habits, and understandings were often difficult to change. 1 Corinthians, more than any other letter, reveals the broken humanity that filled early Christian churches.

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