Book of the Week 46: I Corinthians


Human Author: Paul (and Sosthenes)                          

OT or NT: New Testament 

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. I Corinthians is the forty-sixth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, I Corinthians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for I Corinthians is PROS KORINTHIOUS A which means “to the Corinthians - one” or “for the benefit of the Corinthians - one.”
  4. I Corinthians was a letter written by Paul that, at least in part, was in response to a letter he received from the Corinthian church.
  5. The book of I Corinthians has more instruction on spiritual gifts than most books of the New Testament.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter by greeting the Corinthian church and assuring them of his prayers of thanksgiving for them. Paul confronts the Corinthian church about divisions which exist among them, encouraging them toward unity in faith and in the Holy Spirit. Paul rebukes the Corinthian believers for sexual immorality and for taking one another to court before unbelievers. Next Paul responds to several matters which the believers in Corinth had written to him about including: marriage, widows, and food sacrificed to idols in which Paul encourages the church to flee immorality, to honor God with their body, to remain as they are when called regarding marriage, and to take care not to discourage other believers who have a weak conscience. Paul then surrenders his right as an Apostle to claim material support from the Corinthian church. He encourages believers to do everything to the glory of God. Paul continues his letter by giving advice to the Corinthian believers regarding a variety of topics including: the role of women in the church, head coverings, spiritual gifts, the way of love, keeping order in worship, the necessity of the resurrection of Christ to the Christian faith, and the triumph of Jesus over sin and death in His resurrection. The letter ends as Paul tells the Corinthian church of his plans to visit the Corinthian church, instructions involving a collection for the needy, and a list of personal greetings and commendations for faithful believers.

Jesus Revealed in I Corinthians

In I Corinthians, Paul reveals Jesus’ resurrection to be absolutely essential and indispensable to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus there is no new life for believers and no forgiveness of sins. (I Corinthians 15:12-19) Jesus is compared and contrasted with the character of Adam. Adam failed in the Garden of Eden by falling into sin and he and plunged the world into sin, death, and darkness along with him. Where Adam fails, Jesus succeeds by living a sinless life. Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ will many be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:21-22) While Adam became a living soul, Jesus the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45-49) For Christians, the entire basis for hope in the resurrection of the dead is founded first and foremost in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Victory over death is found only in the resurrection of Christ and not in the law. Next, when believers are united in Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit to live within us. The Holy Spirit unites us as one body in Christ, making us to be alive together with Christ as spiritual persons. The Spirit also empowers us with spiritual gifts which enable us to participate in the body of Christ in order to fulfill our calling within the church’s God-given ministry of reconciliation. (I Corinthians 12:1-28) Since we have a resurrected Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, we as believers not only have hope for our resurrection from the dead, but we are also given the Holy Spirit to unite us with Christ and to empower us for our spiritual mission as the church. Paul proclaims himself as one who personally experienced and encounter with the resurrected Jesus in order to assure believers that this hope of resurrection that we have in Christ is secure.