This summer I’m studying 1 Corinthians with a pilot Precept Ministries study. I would like to study online with anyone who would like to join me. There is no need to order the Precept lessons (unless you want to, of course; go online to http://preceptpilot.wordpress.com/ to find instructions for purchasing and downloading the lessons, join in on the discussions, etc.)
I am planning to write discussion questions, make some observations each week as well; but your input will be so valuable. It’s so encouraging to study God’s Word in community!
For this week, let’s look at some background on the first letter to the Corinthian church.
Read Acts 18:1-23
note “who” (pay attention to whether each person/group is Jew or Gentile)
note “where” (from where did Paul come? where did different companions join him? from where did they leave him? etc.)
how long did Paul remain at Corinth initially?
list the significant events that happened while Paul was in Corinth
This should help you with a little more background.
CORINTH One of four prominent centers in the NT account of the early church, the other three being Jerusalem, Antioch of Syria, and Ephesus. Paul’s first extended ministry in one city was at Corinth. On his first visit to Corinth, he remained for at least 18 months (Acts 18:1–18). Paul’s three longest letters are associated with Corinth. First and Second Corinthians were written to Corinth, and Romans, from Corinth. Prominent Christian leaders associated with Corinth include Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, Timothy, Apollos, and Titus.
History of Corinth: Located on the southwest end of the isthmus that joined the southern part of the Greek peninsula with the mainland to the north, the city was on an elevated plain at the foot of Acrocorinth, a rugged hill reaching 1,886 feet above sea level. Corinth was a maritime city located between two important seaports: the port of Lechaion on the Gulf of Corinth about two miles to the north and the port of Cenchreae on the Saronic Gulf about six miles east of Corinth.
Corinth was an important city long before becoming a Roman colony in 44 B.C. In addition to the extant works of early writers, modern archaeology has contributed to knowledge of ancient Corinth.
The discovery of stone implements and pottery indicates that the area was populated in the late Stone Age. Metal tools have been found that reveal occupation during the early Bronze Age (between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C.). The rising importance of Corinth during the classical period began with the Dorian invasion about 1000 B.C.
Located at the foot of Acrocorinth and at the southwest end of the isthmus, Corinth was relatively easy to defend. The Corinthians controlled the east-west trade across the isthmus as well as trade between Peloponnesus and the area of Greece to the north. The city experienced rapid growth and prosperity, even colonizing Siracuse on Sicily and the Island of Corcyra on the eastern shore of the Adriatic. Pottery and bronze were exported throughout the Mediterranean world.
For a century (about 350 to 250 B.C.) Corinth was the largest and most prosperous city of mainland Greece. Later, as a member of the Achaean League, Corinth clashed with Rome. Finally, the city was destroyed in 146 B.C. L. Mummius, the Roman consul, burned the city, killed the men, and sold the women and children into slavery. For a hundred years the city was desolate.
Julius Caesar rebuilt the city in 44 B.C., and it quickly became an important city in the Roman Empire. An overland ship road across the isthmus connected the ports of Lechaion and Cenchreae. Cargo from large ships was unloaded, transported across the isthmus, and reloaded on other ships. Small ships were moved across on a system of rollers. Ships were able, therefore, to avoid 200 miles of stormy travel around the southern part of the Greek peninsula.
Description of Corinth in Paul’s Day: When Paul visited Corinth, the rebuilt city was little more than a century old. It had become, however, an important metropolitan center. Except where the city was protected by Acrocorinth, a wall about six miles in circumference surrounded it. The Lechaion road entered the city from the north, connecting it with the port on the Gulf of Corinth. As the road entered the city, it widened to more than 20 feet with walks on either side. From the southern part of the city a road ran southeast to Cenchreae.
Approaching the city from the north, the Lechaion road passed through the Propylaea, the beautiful gate marking the entrance into the agora (market). The agora was rectangular and contained many shops. A line of shops divided the agora into a northern and a southern section. Near the center of this dividing line the Bema was located. The Bema consisted of a large elevated speaker’s platform and benches on the back and sides. Here is probably the place Paul was brought before Gallio (Acts 18:12–17).
Religions of Corinth: Although the restored city of Paul’s day was a Roman city, the inhabitants continued to worship Greek gods. West of the Lechaion road and north of the agora stood the old temple of Apollo. Probably partially destroyed by Mummius in 146 B.C., seven of the original 38 columns still stand. On the east side of the road was the shrine to Apollo. In the city were shrines also to Hermes, Hercules, Athena, and Poseidon.
Corinth had a famous temple dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing, and his daughter Hygieia. Several buildings were constructed around the temple for the sick who came for healing. The patients left at the temple terra cotta replicas of the parts of their bodies that had been healed. Some of these replicas have been found in the ruins.
The most significant pagan cult in Corinth was the cult of Aphrodite. The worship of Aphrodite had flourished in old Corinth before its destruction in 146 B.C. and was revived in Roman Corinth. A temple for the worship of Aphrodite was located on the top of the Acropolis.
Summary: The city of Corinth as Paul found it was a cosmopolitan city composed of people from varying cultural backgrounds. Being near the site of the Isthmian games held every two years, the Corinthians enjoyed both the pleasures of these games and the wealth that the visitors brought to the city. While their ships were being carried across the isthmus, sailors came to the city to spend their money on the pleasures of Corinth. Even in an age of sexual immorality, Corinth was known for its licentious lifestyle.
R. E. Glaze
Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., Butler, T. C., & Latta, B. (2003). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (342–343). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Read 1 Corinthians 1 and 2.
Mark in some clear way all references to the author of the book, and the recipients. Also mark any other significant characters.
Note what you learn about each from these two chapters
Read 1 Corinthians 1 and 2.
Mark key words in some way that is comfortable for you. You can use colored pencils, or pen; circles, underline — whatever helps you “see” the text more clearly.
Spirit (the Holy Spirit)
write out questions you have, comments, things you notice about what you have marked.
DAY FOUR AND FIVE
What is Paul thankful for? (1:4-9) what do you learn about God? about our standing as belivers?
What is the first problem Paul addresses? (1:10 and following)
What particular kind of division is Paul addressing? give an example of what that would look like in today’s church.
Do I tend to be divisive, or unifying?
Am I seeking unity, or am I trying to “make peace” to avoid conflict?
Do I feel superior or “more mature” because of studies I have done or books I have read or teachers I’ve listened to? What am I doing with the knowledge God has given me?
Consider God’s “choosings” from 1:26-31. How does this passage affect my view of my contribution to my local church?
From Chapter 2 —
How did Paul approach the Corinthian believers? What can I learn from him in how to interact with fellow Christians?
On who or what do I honestly rely for my “wisdom?”
my friends’ opinions?
my intelligence? my “street smarts?”
Who truly knows the thoughts of God?
How has God made it possible for a believer to understand spiritual things?
Do I go to God as a “last resort” when I have exhausted all other avenues?
How can understanding true spiritual wisdom and where wisdom comes from and God’s “calling” mend divisions in relationships in the church? in your home? on your job?
Please message me or comment in some way that you want to participate in this study, and what you are learning.