1 Corinthians

One of the most relevant books of the Bible for our culture today, 1 Corinthians gives an inside look at the early Christians and in turn a reflection on our own lives.

In the letter, St. Paul addresses a critical question: What does it mean to live in the world but not of it? Along the way, this study will address timely topics such as choosing a Vocation, the influence of the media, the Church’s teaching on contraception, the pursuit of holiness, developing the zeal to evangelize, and discerning our spiritual gifts.

INTRODUCTION: LEADING THIS STUDY

God’s word is alive and it should be embodied in our lives. St. Paul wrote his First Letter to the Corinthians while he was staying in Ephesus, in response to problems in the church in Corinth.

CHAPTER 1: WISDOM ABOUT DIVISIONS

St. Paul’s solution to the divisions in Corinth is to look to the cross. Chapters 1 and 2 immediately dive into the problems and culture of the church in Corinth. The community appears as a sick patient; St. Paul serves as a doctor who quickly identifies the illness (division) while figuring out one of the root causes (worldly wisdom).

CHAPTER 2: IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF THE WORLD

Chapter 5 and 6 continue St. Paul’s emphasis on getting at the root of disunity. Earlier, he went after the topic of wisdom. Now, St. Paul will turn to particular actions of the Corinthians that are leading to their disunity—sexual immorality and taking one another to court.

CHAPTER 3: VOCATION

Dealing with practical issues on marriage, St. Paul gives several important pieces of advice. On one hand, the pagan culture of temple prostitution and affairs leads to sexual immorality (1 Cori 6:12–20). On the other hand, some Corinthians have decided to go the completely opposite way and condemn marriage and sex altogether. In this sexually charged city of Corinth, St. Paul walks a fine line in his advice to the Church.

CHAPTER 4: IDOL MEAT AND EVANGELIZATION

As the Corinthians struggled with the problem of eating meat sacrificed to idols, St. Paul will use love and his own example to persuade them. At first, it doesn’t seem that the Corinthians’ problem with eating meat sacrificed to idols has much to do with us in the 21st century. But St. Paul’s words 2,000 years ago still have much to teach us today about care for fellow Christians and evangelizing others.

CHAPTER 5: EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST

Lessons from history can help us understand the present. St. Paul continues his response on the subject of idol worship. The example of the Israelites is very similar to the Corinthians’ current situation; by seeing the causes and effects of the Israelites’ destruction, maybe the Corinthians can properly see what they are doing and where it might lead them.

CHAPTER 6: SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND THE GIFT OF LOVE

In chapters 12 and 13, St. Paul explores the topic of spiritual gifts. Apparently, some members of the community were boasting about their own gifts and questioning others who lacked them. St. Paul will give a more well-rounded picture of how the Church is to function while asking the Corinthians to place love above all else.