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1 Corinthians - Introduction

      The Epistles of Paul, like the prophecies of Jeremiah or Amos, were often called out by the mistakes, errors, and sins of the churches which he had planted, and were intended to correct them. The newly planted churches were in the midst of heathens and were composed in great part of those who had early heathen training. It is not wonderful that converts from such populations, unused to Christian morality, knowing little of the Old Testament Scriptures, and without the New Testament, should sometimes go astray, or become the victims of false teachers. Yet the church of all ages has reason to be thankful for the circumstances which called out the collection of Inspired Letters on practical Christian life so essential to its instructions as we find in the Epistles of Paul. In order to gain the greatest profit from these it is necessary that the reader be informed concerning the conditions which called out each letter, what were the circumstances of each church, what were the wants the Apostle sought to supply and the sins he sought to correct.

      But what especially called out this Epistle were the tidings of divisions in the church which had been brought to him at Ephesus by members of the household of Chloe, one of the principal members. Paul had confined himself while at Corinth to the simple principles of the gospel and scrupulously abstained from the philosophical discussions so dear to the Greek mind ( 1 Corinthians 1:17-22 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ). Apollos, schooled in the philosophy of Alexandria, and not yet so thoroughly grounded in the gospel as Paul, evidently engaged in some philosophical speculations. It is also manifest that some of the Judaizing teachers who constantly followed in the footsteps of the great Apostle and sought to Judaize the churches, had come to Corinth, and by exalting Peter, in order to depreciate Paul, had formed another party. Hence there were various factions whose discords rent the body of Christ; one party claiming to be Pauline; another making Apollos its leader; still another claiming to be of Cephas, and still a fourth, whatever it may have been, claiming to be of Christ. The four chapters of the Epistle , the first in order, are a vigorous and indignant arraignment of these schisms.

      Other questions discussed were suggested to him by a letter brought to him at Ephesus by Corinthian brethren begging a solution of various difficulties; on marriage, the veiling of women in assemblies, on sacrificial feasts, and perhaps on the nature of the resurrection from the dead. See Chap. VII. 1 . These questions and various irregularities which are rebuked will be duly considered in the Notes.

      This Epistle was written at Ephesus while Paul was engaged in his ministry of three years in that city ( Acts 19:1-41 Acts 20:31 Acts 19:1 Acts 20:31 ). The time when it was written can be determined with no little certainty to have been the spring of A. D. 57. That this Epistle is genuine has been conceded by all respectable critics, both ancient and modern.

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