This study, taught by Pastor Barry Forder, is the 39th session of our ‘Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ series recorded during 2014 as part of our Sunday morning family services.
The church at Corinth was one of 7 churches that Paul writes to in the New Testament, and was founded and established by Paul, who we are told in the book of Acts, spent 18 months with this fledgling yet growing congregation of believers. However, even with this personal nurturing from Paul, there were a number of problems that crept into this church, problems that Paul addresses in his letters to them.
Much of the cause of these problems is attributed to the immoral and materialistic culture of Corinth, which even in the pagan world was known for its moral corruption, with over 1000 prostitutes connected with the temple of Aphrodite. The strategically important location of Corinth made it a major trade and commerce centre in the Roman world, sitting as it did on an isthmus – a narrow neck of land between the two major shipping ports (Corinthian Gulf (Port of Lechaeum) and the Sardonic Gulf (Port of Cenchrea)). This ensured the diversity of its population and meant that the congregation of the church at Corinth was as diverse as any we might find today.
Because of the similarity of Corinth and the world we live in today there are many lessons for us:
Paul addresses the following:
The importance of church discipline, Chapter 5;
How internal church disputes should be settled, Chapter 6;
Marriage and Divorce, Chapter 7;
Christian Liberty, Chapters 8, 9, 10;
The Lord’s Table, Chapter 11;
The place of ‘Tongues’, Chapters 12-14;
The importance of the Resurrection, Chapter 15.
The reason for Paul’s letters helps to understand his heart in writing:
Paul had received news from the household of Chloe to tell him of cliques that had formed in the church (1 Cor 1:11) and as a result the church written him a letter (re: 1 Cor 7:1), The situation was serious. Paul responded with the letter we know as 1 Corinthians, but the situation worsened. Paul felt it necessary to leave his work in Ephesus and pay a hurried visit in the attempt to set things right. (This visit is implied in passages in 2 Corinthians, which speak of Paul as being ready to pay a third visit to Corinth (2 Cor 12:14; 13:1; his second visit having occurred by then, 13:2). His references to “coming again in sorrow” (2 Cor 2:1) indicate that this visit had been an unpleasant one. It failed to clear up the situation and Paul went away profoundly disturbed. Paul determined to write another letter, obviously very severe in tone, and it cost him much to write (2 Cor 2:4; 7:8). Had it not been successful it might conceivably have meant a final rupture between Paul and this church he had founded. This letter seems to have been lost. (Many scholars feel part of it is preserved in 2 Cor 10-13.) The letter was apparently taken by Titus, who was to return via Macedonia and Troas. Paul was impatient to know how it had been received. When he eventually catches up to Titus, he learns that all is well (2 Cor 2:12-17; 7:5-7, 13). Out of his great relief and joy, Paul then writes the letter we call 2 Corinthians. Almost certainly he visited the church soon afterwards. (Notes in part taken from Chuck Missler’s commentary of 1 & 2 Corinthians – available from www.khouse.org)
1) When church was founded;
2) The “painful” visit;
3) A visit after 2 Corinthians had been sent.
1) The “Previous Letter”;
2) 1 Corinthians;
3) The “Severe Letter”;
4) 2 Corinthians.
May this overview prompt you to undertake your own study of these divinely inspired books.
The PDF slides are from the PowerPoint presentation used during the teaching session.
You can listen to the audio on this web page, or save it for later listening.