The apostle Paul began the church at Corinth while on his second missionary journey (Acts 18). He stayed in the city for a year and a half teaching the gospel (Acts 18:11). The two letters were written in close succession while Paul was on his third journey. The first letter was penned shortly before Paul left Ephesians (1 Corinthians 16:8-10). The second letter was written while Paul was in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 1:15-16). He would visit the church soon thereafter and then go to Judea with the gift for the saints who were suffering through a famine.
The content for the first letter
seems to be twofold: first, a report from Chloe’s household (1 Corinthians 1:11) and also a series of questions sent to Paul by the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:1).
They were a church with a lot of problems: sectarianism (ch. 1), worldliness (ch. 3), pride (ch. 4), sexual immorality (ch. 5, 7), legal disputes (ch. 6), abuse of their liberty in Christ (ch. 8), unequal yoking with pagans (ch. 10), disputes over head coverings and lack of respect for the Lord’s Supper (ch. 11), misuse of and undue focus on miraculous gifts (ch. 12-14), and the influence of false doctrines (ch. 15). The church was a mess.
By the time Paul wrote the second letter, some things had begun to change in the church in Corinth. Many of the brethren had repented (2:5-6; 7:5-11). However, it seems they still put up with false teachers (11:1-4, 13-15) and there was still a strong contingent at Corinth who stood against Paul, maligned him openly, and doubted his apostleship (10:10; 12:11-12; 13:1-3, etc.).
Scattered throughout the second epistle we find Paul defending himself against accusations and doubts of the brethren at Corinth (1:15-23; 3:1-3; 4:2; 5:11-12, 20; 6:3-12; 7:2-4). In fact, much of the content in chapters 10, 11, and 12 are given in defense of his apostleship and ministry. stand as a sol ; , Paul spent a considerable portion of the second letter defending his apostleship , doubted his apostleship
Here are summary statements for chapters in the two books:
- Divisions & Foolishness (1 Corinthians 1)
- We Speak Wisdom (1 Corinthians 2)
- Let No One Boast In Men (1 Corinthians 3)
- Haughtiness Rebuked (1 Corinthians 4)
- Sexual Immorality in the Church (1 Corinthians 5)
- Unholy Conduct Rebuked (1 Corinthians 6)
- Principles for Marriage (1 Corinthians 7)
- Concerning Things Offered To Idols (1 Corinthians 8)
- A Servant To All (1 Corinthians 9)
- All To the Glory of God (1 Corinthians 10)
- Head Coverings & the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11)
- Spiritual Gifts Distributed (1 Corinthians 12)
- Duration of the Gifts (1 Corinthians 13)
- Gifts in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 14)
- Resurrected Christ and Our Hope (1 Corinthians 15)
- Greetings & Final Exhortations (1 Corinthians 16)
- The God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1)
- Repentance & Triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2)
- Our Sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3)
- The Gospel in Earthen Vessels (2 Corinthians 4)
- Walk by Faith, Not by Sight (2 Corinthians 5)
- Restricted by Your Affections (2 Corinthians 6)
- Perfecting Holiness (2 Corinthians 7)
- Abound in Giving (2 Corinthians 8)
- God Loves a Cheerful Giver (2 Corinthians 9)
- Defending His Apostleship (2 Corinthians 10-12)
- Examine Yourselves (2 Corinthians 13)
Next time, we’ll look at Galatians.